On the Next Economy

With Christopher Kulendran Thomas Edlis Neeson Theater
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60611

Christopher Kulendran Thomas, in collaboration with Annika Kuhlmann, will present the corporate philosophy of New Eelam, a subscription-based housing service to launch this year. New Eelam aims to reshape the global real-estate market by providing subscribers with access to—and collective ownership of—a revolving portfolio of housing in cities around the world. The company’s point of departure is Eelam, the homeland for which Tamils in Sri Lanka fought for nearly three decades, until their struggle for self-governance was quelled in 2009. In installations and promotional videos, Thomas, an artist and the CEO of New Eelam, has described the company as a vehicle for reimagining citizenship in response to the dislocation of populations, which has been accelerated by emerging technologies. But he has never fully articulated the political experiment that is at the core of the company. In his lecture, Thomas will outline the economic paradigm being advanced by New Eelam, which hinges on the use of technologies to transform how capital is raised, assets are owned, profits are prioritized, and corporations are valued.

On the Next Economy is a component of “Parts of Speech,” an exhibition on public speech organized by Triple Canopy and Public Fiction with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The exhibition hinges on six experimental lectures, which will be live-streamed only at the museum; edited documentation will be available on Triple Canopy's website at a later date. (Additional details about this and other lectures in the series—such as locations and times—will be posted as soon as they are confirmed.) “Parts of Speech” is being published by Triple Canopy as a series in Two Ears and One Mouth, a forthcoming issue that examines how we speak and listen and who has the right and capacity to be heard.

Parts of Speech is made possible in part through the generous support of the Stolbun Collection and Karyn Kohl and Silas Dilworth. Triple Canopy has received additional support for Two Ears One Mouth from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston; the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts; and the Opaline Fund of the Jewish Community Endowment Federation and Endowment Fund.

  • Christopher Kulendran Thomas is an artist who lives in London and Berlin. His work manipulates the structural processes by which art produces reality. In his long-running project New Eelam, he asks how citizenship might be conceived anew in an age of technologically accelerated dislocation. New Eelam centers on a start-up founded by the artist to develop a flexible, subscription-based service that grants access to (and collective ownership of) a stock of housing worldwide. The point of departure for the project is the unrealized possibility of Eelam, the Tamil Sri Lankan homeland that was wiped out in 2009 following a failed struggle for self-governance. Thomas’s work was presented at the 2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (Shenzhen); the Eleventh Gwangju Biennale, the Ninth Berlin Biennale, and the third edition of the Dhaka Art Summit, as well as in exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm), Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin), New Galerie (Paris), and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.