Chicago Boys, While We Were Singing, They Were Dreaming

A 1970s revival band and neoliberalism study group assembled by Kurdish artist and musician Hiwa K.

1 March–31 May 2011 / Casco HQ

The band plays 1970s popular music songs from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, England, Bangladesh, Poland, the Netherlands, and Lebanon. The performances of the songs are alternated with associative presentations of archival material related to personal stories and appearances of neoliberal policies.

Chicago Boys is a result of Hiwa K’s interest in different modes of informal knowledge. The band consists of those who do not necessarily have musical experience but develop it together. From different professional and cultural backgrounds, they gather and dedicate a period of about two months to learn how to perform, while grappling with the questions of free market economy in their weekly study group sessions. The band continues its practice while new members from different locations join along the way. Chicago Boys was formed last year in London when Hiwa K took residency at Serpentine Gallery’s Edgware Road Project. They recently traveled to Wyspa Institute of Art on the Gdansk Shipyard in Poland. Upon invitation from Casco and If I Can’t Dance, Chicago Boys now move on to the Netherlands for a Dutch tour, searching for new members and locations for their performances, traveling from city to city.

The name Chicago Boys refers to a group of young Chilean economists who, after having studied with economist and “grandmaster” of free-market economic theory Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago, drove a neoliberal economic policy in Chile under the dictatorial regime of Pinochet in the 1970s. Chicago Boys, While We Were Singing, They Were Dreaming traces back the possible “affairs” (as Hiwa K puts it) between this first implementation of liberal economics and a number of parallel events happening at the time, such as the oil crisis and the US threat to attack Saudi Arabia. But one could also think of the Iraq War, a neoliberal project of more recent date. In addition, Chicago Boys tries to understand the weakening of the left that manifested at the turn of the 1970s into the 1980s in different parts of the globe; a political tendency one can currently witness. All these developments are reflected upon through the lens of cultural dynamics, particularly those in the popular music genre.
Chicago Boys, While We Were Singing, They Were Dreaming is an ongoing, collective and transnational project that attempts to practice an alternative model for exploring the globalization process and its impact on our daily culture.

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