Morraine Rex


9min / 1920×1080 / 2019


The landscape of Marie Lukáčová’s rap video is permeated by different flows than the erosive rainstorms of Wadi Musa. However, capital transformations have the same magical backdrop as the enchantment of the oil industry. The history of the transfer of land into private ownership is littered with gruesome events associated with enclosure throughout the entire history of the colonisation of the New World, Africa, and even the European continent. Based on her study of the history of witch trials, Silvie Federici unravels the connection between the exploitation of women and unpaid domestic labour, which played a central role in the process of capitalist accumulation. The first stage in the introduction of the capitalist system was the disciplining of the body, a process that impacted greatly on women, who had to be deprived of their independence and social power. They had to be tamed and bound to home, family and husband, and had to perform their household duties for free so that their husbands might participate in the growth of capital undisturbed. “The witch was the communist and terrorist of her time, which required a ‘civilising’ drive to produce the new ‘subjectivity’ and sexual division of labour on which the capitalist work discipline would rely…”1/ writes Silvia Federici in her new book. She was prompted to write the book by the ongoing witch-hunts taking place in countries such as India, Nepal, Papua-New Guinea, Central Africa, Islamic State, Saudi Arabia, which demonstrate where the new forms of accumulation and colonisation have relocated and how the interrelated relationships between market mechanisms and the weakening of the agency of women operate, leading to the destabilisation of territorial, tribal and family ties.

This is not only about property, but the victorious model of social relations that has led to the destruction of the social life of women, women’s collectives, women’s collective work and leisure. Since the 1990s, the number of murdered women in Africa has risen dramatically in parallel with new economic interests that undermine the relationships between young and old, men and women, and in which an important role is again played by questions pertaining to the appropriation of land and resources, poverty and precarisation. Until recently, land in Africa was a shared good, and women farmed it. However, with the entry of the World Bank it had, it goes without saying, to be registered in order to become the subject of loans and business. Women were forced to abandon their self-sufficient production and to become assistants to their husbands in the production of goods. It is often older women and women who work their own land that are the targets of witch-hunts in Africa. Those doing the hunting are young members of the community, sometimes even of the family. The division of male and female labour is also problematic, with plenty of employment opportunities for men in armed jobs – building security guards, corporate security services, prison officers, membership in gangs, the mafia, the army, etc. – thus increasing the toxic masculinity of the male population.

In the 1970s, feminists themselves embraced the myth of the witch in the Italian activist campaign for wages for housework and the legalisation of abortion, adopting the slogan: “Tremble, tremble, the witches have returned!”, and linked up feminist movements around the world. At present the iconography of witchcraft is experiencing a renascence as a practice that reveals new possibilities above and beyond the dualist perception of the world. Modern witchcraft is the fastest growing new religion at present. Wicca is the largest and most widespread offshoot of neo-paganism and comprises a diverse group of religious movements claiming to be derived from historical pagan religions. Modern witchcraft spread after the fall of the countercultures of the 1960s. The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) estimated that in 2008 there were around 600,000 neo-pagans in the United States, of which roughly half identified as Wiccan. According to some estimates, in 2017 there were more than three million practicing Wiccans. In esoteric circles the term “witch” is gender neutral and can refer to both men and women. At the heart of the Wicca shared faith (like other forms of modern witchcraft) is the acceptance and practice of magic. Adherents seek inspiration in the works of Gerald Brosseau Gardner and Aleister Crowley. The latter defined magic as “the Science and Art of Causing Change to occur in conformity with Will“. Magic as such is not supernatural. It is as natural as gravitation and wind and often involves a combination of invocation, movement, rhythm, music, meditation and instruments that are used in such a way as to operate on a subtle, energetic or quantum level of reality.

If we accept that magic is not simply something practiced in the “primitive” stages of societies but is present in the very heart of the modern regime (as many writers such as Theodor Adorno and Arjun Appaduraio concede), we will understand more easily Marie Lukáčová’s interest in creating a form of magic in opposition to that of economic growth and the circulation of capital. Lukáčová is not so much interested in the eccentric witch operating on the margins of society, but in strong female and male witch figures fully established within the neoliberal system who, with the effortlessness of ordinary skills and abilities combined with routine work, facilitate the flow of capital through the landscape, which they are able to move and transform at will with merely a few clicks on their mobile. The cumulative cloud is a new form of capital that feeds on information, including the most private and intimate, to which relationships, marriages, desire, stories, the imagination and art are subject. Everything is viewed as an investment. Lukáčová shows how the economic sector has coopted the practices of witches, how the movement of capital is magical and the language and system of economic wizards is hermetic. By appropriating mainstream male rap and a feminist-accented witchcraft, the artist achieves a double augmentation. The transformability of polyamory, sex and morphing monsters then holds out the hope of an escape from the capitalist design of the nuclear family. 

The first image of her video is not of some historical image of the Sabbath in the landscape, but a shot of a diverse group of financial services sector employees in a lounge. All of them are connected to their touch-free Apple devices and paranormally control global market flows that have direct implications for landscape change. Morena Rex sounds like an invocatory spell. The constant synthetic noise evokes flows of financial capital and underscores the incantation that mixes the power of money with death. Power and finance stimulate and transform love and eroticism. “After intercourse I allow gripping with palms. With financial level…”2/ Changing keyboard sounds announce the leitmotifs of individual working financial witches. A simple repeating ambient electro theme begins and introduces a rapidly proliferating, partially anthropomorphised cloud rotating in all directions modelled in 3D, capital accumulation and sexually charged shimmering mineral. The polyamorous dream of one of the beings about group sex that conceals a massacre on the mining platform. The rotating cloud alternates a rotating planetary system with a large pupil inhabited by witches and mythological figures. 

The sound plays at the same volume without any dramatic changes. The repetitive tonal level, enhanced by the chirruping of birds, puts one in mind of reading a good fantasy book. Fantasy is also present in a mythologized image of the Cybertwee figure of Moira in her fossil empire, talking to her abstract counsellor. A cartoon bestiary character with an anthropo-animal morphology enters the scene, which, after subverting gender stereotypes, hybridises the human race. In her text, Lukáčová combines the language of love and eroticism with that of economics. “Marriage as an investment”. The institutionalisation of life packaged within a mythological narrative leads to a consultation on the generations of family investment and investment in images, which constitute new profitable repositories of capital. In the next part of the video the banking image turns into IKEA kitchen scenery, “proletarian rap”, or perhaps “precariat rap”. Lukáčová comes up with a brilliant language combining rapper jargon with the argot of the banking sector and minorities. It bubbles non-aggressively, becoming a mantra that in each verse illustrates our rooted and all-pervasive dependency on financial institutions, revolving credit, and the desire for capital success and at least basic social status.

Text by Edith Jeřábková