Long March Capital- Visual Economy

Lu Jie


Long March Capital is both a theoretical site and a practical platform, with a main focus on visual economy. Theoretically, Long March is a process that illustrates the enmeshed relations among visual material and visual, geographical, and historical capital; this process is defined as visual economy. In practical terms, the productive force of Long March capital theory concerns different relationships of production and the movements of both material and immaterial capital as manifested in the visual economy.

The current position of contemporary art internationally is exploited by exhaustive repetitions of both form and subject matter. In the production of art, people often too hastily recognize economy as the process of converting surplus value to value-added, and thereby relations of productions of art become bounded to and constrained by consumption. The art history, curation, as well as market value that evolve from such a status quo are therefore counter-Long March.

Visuality.  Over the years, with Long March’s practice, we have augmented the role of art from what is traditionally conceived as a carrier of pure aesthetics to an organic system of visual culture. Long March delves deeper into constructing a narrative on the relationship between the power of the visual and societal progress. The juxtaposition of visuality and economy is of vital importance, it allows art not to be confined by space; instead, it describes art as a form orientated and developed from human conditions and social relations. It is located in a theoretical space rather than a physical space. In a time that emphasizes visual impact and the economy of contacts and encounters, a Marxist theory of social gaps and inequality can help us set out to consider visual art spaces as nodes of exchange within the economic system, in order to realize a space of communication and exchange where artworks can be understood as social products.

Economy.  We are accustomed to detaching visual art from the intricate complicity of social forms and cultural logic and to setting economy against aesthetics, in the process, narrowing our understanding of the economy. By juxtaposing the visual and the economic, we apply Marx’s historical materialism to extricate art from a place of elitism that stresses individualism, with the intention of (re-)recognizing the sociality of art which is crucial in current contemporary art debates. Under this framework, the orientation toward realism will not be unilaterally understood as a loss of individualism. Art, whether through artists or their creations, is intimately tied with collective and socio-historical progress.

Contemporary society has become defined by visuality. Visuality is a particularly active factor in the economy, and economy visualizes contemporary art. Long March presents the ways in which artworks become involved in social activities by systematically narrating and putting on display the cultural logic of visuality. In this way, major social bodies, namely the public, could reclaim the close relationship they once had with visual art. These possibilities are in fact omnipresent in the mundane of everyday life but have been obstructed by the curatorial and professional discourse and become distant from art. For the public, this creates a tension between them and contemporary art, a sense of strangeness, unfamiliarity, and anxiety. For artists, it aggravates their sense of isolation, and thereby restricts their creative prowess and confines their imagination, hindering them from devising new artistic forms.

I refer to visuality not as a purely sensory or aesthetic experience of pure sensory, nor as an investigation of technological aesthetics or new media. The economy I am talking about is neither money, nor business, nor the art market. Visual economy is an enmeshed art structure that discloses factors and elements in the interconnected relations within the production of art. It puts artists and their creations in relation with the production and its social meaning through visual construction. The process of visual construction is the visual economy – experimentation, production, explanation, presentation, consumption, transmission, correlation, and addition.


Long March Capital – The theoretical dimension of visual economy is expressed through Long March Space’s space of display and discourse.

Long March Capital – The material space of visual economy is realized through Long March mode of production within Long March productivity.

The theoretical dimension and material space convene in three areas – System, Site, and Element:

  1. System. Such as an alternative vein of art history that lies elusively in the vernacular is manifested by the Great Survey of paper-cutting in Yanchuan County, a project realized through Long March’s creative input and investment, along with various international grants, and the immaterial capital from the local government, executed largely by a team of local volunteers.
  2. Site. For example, Site 13 – Beijing; 25000 Cultural Transmission Center, conducts sampling analysis of visual representations (through displays in space, independent projects, consultations, services, productions during residency, publications, conferences, workshops, cyberspaces, etc.).  Implementation of work might require an exchange of resource between exhibiting artists, services to the local art community, or sponsorship and investment of profits by previous artists. Or, for example, a voluntary bargain sale of high-priced art or supporting photographers from the rural regions with strong folk-art traditions to enter the market of contemporary art. These experiments of resource redistribution motivate public discourse and local cultural ecology and provoke thinking regarding the relation of construction between the city and the countryside pertaining to economy and visuality. They also induce dialogues concerning the geographic displacement of tradition and people and relations between constructions of social subjectivity.
  3. Elements proposes not to isolate or seclude, but to articulate revolutionary visual representation — to undertake service-oriented creative modes of production that dismiss hard currency, for instance, instead focusing on resource-sharing, exchange, and market-oriented non-profit structures.

These three areas are more or less practiced in commercial art entities (galleries, auction houses, art publishers), non-profit organizations (foundations), or public art institutions (art schools, museums). However, they (the three areas) are not practiced (by the aforementioned entities) on the basis of an innovative interpretation on the relationship between visuality and economy, nor can they be understood as a complete or multidimensional process of advancing the movement of visual art.


Long March modes of production:

Planning. Embracing the Long March spirit and Long March method, as collective or individual, international or local, propose and realize art or any visual culture-related projects. Sponsor or be sponsored, invest or be invested in.

Exhibition. Constant development of the collective and individual under the auspices of Long March structure. Make sales, yet profits gained are not the fundamental aim.

Residency. For people, whether international or local, within or outside the art field, to live for the art, whether for a charge or for free.

Publication. Be published or publish for others.

Internet. The most comprehensive and bilingual website for the arts in China, an internet platform for communication of information and exchange of material and immaterial capital.

Service. Consulting and advisory services for the art market, collecting, intellectual property of artists, copyrights, etc. Not limited to monetarily-defined accounting, distribution, and exchange systems.


The material force brought by Long March mode of production increases Long March productivity. As it is known to all, Long March will go on forever.


Knowledge Links:


In western economic theory, capital is a constituent of investment (on productive materials), including labor, land, and capital. The essence of capital is not material, but productive relations reflected on the material.

Capital is the rights of dominion over objects. To gain the rights of dominion over objects, capital acquires the rights of dominion over the labor force.

Capital can be classified into three categories:

  1. Institution or capital of social productive relation. Its advancement and accretion are realized through revolutions, such as revolutions of socio-political ideology;
  2. Human resource capital;
  3. Material capital, both natural and human-created.

Long March capital – cultural, geographical, and historical capital – correlates with these categories: capital of social productive relation (cultural and historical capital), human resource capital (cultural capital), and material capital (geographical capital). Long March capital is reflected in productive relations of materials, namely the productive relation of visual materials (for instance, produce–curate–display–sale).