Melanie Gilligan. Crisis in the Credit System.

by florence cheval

I think that when I started making my drama about the financial crisis, Crisis in the Credit System, I started to try to address what I thought was truly needed in the world. I made a work that was inserted into mass culture (without aping its forms or content) because I thought that the film was needed in that context, at that moment. Crisis… is a fictional drama that looked at the (then developing) financial crisis of 2007-onward when the world was still mostly in the dark on the subject (I started making the piece in 2007, it came out two weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed). I began making the film with the idea that people needed to know about the financial crisis as the event would have a profound impact on all aspects of our increasingly financialized world. But I wanted to use narrative, not documentary, to tell people about the crisis, and communicate the information by a different means. I wanted to get the work beyond art spheres to a wider mainstream audience and I realized that distribution would be key in this. I decided to show the work online, dividing the video into episodes so that it fit the size limits of online sharing sites back then. The episodic format led me to model the work around TV drama. I tried to insert information about the work in newspapers and news websites, which are the conventional means by which one learns about an event like the financial crisis.

5 Questions for Contemporary Practice : Melanie Gilligan, by Thom Donovan, May 22nd, 2012

Crisis in the Credit System de Melanie Gilligan est le produit d’une recherche intensive dans le monde de la finance.
Le film est sorti peu après la faillite de la banque d’affaires Lehman Brothers en 2008 – l’artiste avait eu l’occasion de percevoir, en amont, le ras-de-marée qui se tramait.

Constitué en quatre épisodes distincts, Crisis in the Credit System demeure néanmoins une exploration sur le mode fictionnel d’une catastrophe financière mondiale.

Une banque d’investissement met en place un brainstorming assorti d’une session de jeu de rôles pour ses employés, afin de les préparer à gérer le climat financier incertain qui s’annonce.

Melanie Gilligan s’inspire des séries télévisées pour nous inscrire dans un univers incertain où fiction et réalité s’entremêlent, sur un mode équivalent à celui des personnages eux-mêmes.


This past October in the UK, the ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition announced £81 billion in government spending cuts, the most severe since World War II. In his unveiling speech, Chancellor George Osborne declared that “today is the day when Britain steps back from the brink,” predicting that the cuts would restore “sanity to our public finances and stability to our economy” by decreasing the national deficit. The Chancellor consoled the public by saying that this “is a hard road but it leads to a better future.” The cuts are wide-ranging and include: a reduction of 8 percent in welfare spending, with an £11 billion cut announced first, followed by another £7 billion, slashing housing and child benefits and placing new limits on incapacity benefits (for those who cannot work due to illness or disability); the layoff of nearly half a million public servants; a 51 percent funding cut to local governments across England; and an increase in the state pension age by one year. A 40 percent cut to higher education will increase yearly university tuition fees from £3,000 to £9,000 (which students will automatically take on as debt) and end the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), a subsidy of up to £30 a week for students from low income households who are aged sixteen to nineteen and enrolled in college or optional secondary school. This grossly exclusionary restructuring of higher education was the first measure to be put before Parliament.
Melanie Gilligan, Visits from the Future, E-Flux, 01-2011