This project takes much of its inspiration from Anti-Oedipus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. According to Deleuze and Guattari, the ‘repressing family’ takes the place of ‘repressive social production,’ which they relate back to the Oedipus complex. They write that “[the] law tells us: You will not marry your mother, and you will not kill your father. And we docile subjects say to ourselves: so that’s what I wanted! Will it ever be suspected that the law discredits, and has an interest in the discrediting and disgracing, the person it presumes to be guilty, the person the law wants to be guilty and wants to be made to feel guilty.” According to Deleuze and Guattari, making the unconscious guilty ultimately serves to repress one and make one subservient. They elucidate the connections between the repression of desire and the creation of lack, and write that “[lack] is created, planned, and organized in and through social production.” This ultimately keeps production and capital flowing. They further write that “[the] deliberate creation of lack as a function of market economy is the art of a dominant class. This involves deliberately organizing wants and needs amid an abundance of production; making all of desire teeter and fall victim to the great fear of not having one’s needs satisfied.” In many ways, I think that Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas relate back to oikos, that is, the household economy, and its relation to capitalism and social production.
For this project, I use advertisements depicting either a parent with children or children in domestic spaces, in which the presence of parents loom at the margins, from Martha Stewart Living and Country Living. These advertisements seem to uphold the traditional heteronormative family and perhaps attempt to use for their own purposes (presumably, that of monetary gain) the familial desires, repression and creation of lack that Deleuze and Guattari describe. It seems that they are trying to reproduce the heteronormative family through the very impersonal form of advertisement as a means of furthering production. In advertisements like these, each family appears as a sort of copy without an original. I gave these advertisements to my friends and told them to write a memory, private or not, good or bad, about their parents or their family. I think that this gives the advertisements a sense of the personal that they lack, not only because of the content of the memory, but because of each individual’s distinctive handwriting. Through this, I aim to illuminate how capitalism and power more broadly gains control by operating at the site of the individual and creates this sort of lack or void which it purports to fill, continually, while emptying out.