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ADELITA HUSNI-BEY

Adelita Husni-Bey Postcards from the Desert Island, 2010, digital video, color, sound, 22 minutes 23 seconds.

“REPEAT DARKLY,” said Adelita Husni-Bey: “‘There is no such thing as society, there are men and women.’” During an interview with Clara Schulmann in 2015, Husni-Bey uttered Margaret Thatcher’s famous words as if they were a sinister spell—in J. L. Austin’s terms, not a constative (“There is no society”), but a performative (“I, Thatcher, hereby abolish society”). Husni-Bey is hardly alone in ascribing a malevolent power to the Iron Lady. Across Britain, downloads of “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead” shot up when Thatcher passed away in 2013. And while the Munchkin effervescence was doubtless invigorating, it was somewhat premature.Thatcher’s legacy, that cauldron of policies and attitudes known as neoliberalism, has only grown in potency. Ruthless and relentless, it now encircles the globe.

Adelita Husni-Bey, Gestures of Labour, 2009, Super 8 transferred to digital video, color, silent, 5 minutes 39 seconds. Adelita Husni-Bey, Story of the Heavens and Our Planet, 2007, Super 8 transferred to digital video, color, sound, 7 minutes 7 seconds. Adelita Husni-Bey, Clays Lane Archive (detail), 2009–12, still from the 26-minute 24-second video component (color, sound) of a mixed-media installation.

As with many well-worn quotations, there are conflicting records of Thatcher’s

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