Energy Plan for the Western Man: Art after Capitalism, round table discussion with Keith Hennessy (artist), Sylvie Denis (author), Praba Pilar (artist), Andrew Mount (artist/educator), and Elizabeth Thomas (curator) at Shaping San Francisco, Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics (518 Valencia St, SF.)
This round table discussion centered on each of the participant’s practice and individual work with an accent on the future/post-capitalism. Largely drawn on themes that are present in Joseph Beuys work, and to be more specific his pioneering concept of social sculpture, money and universal basic income, we used his figure to discuss the future of art and the future of art/artist/author/
The first step toward a post-capitalist practice involves the redefinition of art itself. Art after capitalism starts right now. Is the promised future artist’s emancipation providing only a contemplative respite from the exploitation, hierarchies and conflict present in the art world today? What does the future hold for artists, authors, performers? Will the artist abandon the authorial form? Will there be massive exodus from the museum/from the bookstore/from the performance venue? Will art finally merge with our lived experience? What new avenues can lead us toward an exit from our failed artistic paradigms? Will the rules of competition and money remain alive in the background and it is important to learn how to struggle absolutely for changes that are still only partial? Can we build a truly inclusive adequate, equitable and decentralized system that puts the artist/author/performer/
Video Documentation of “Energy Plan for the Western Man: Art After Capitalism” HERE
About the Presenters:
Keith Hennessy, MFA, PhD, is a dancer, writer, choreographer, activist, and ritualist. Raised in Canada, living in San Francisco since 1982, he tours internationally. Keith’s recent collaborators include Peaches, Meg Stuart, Scott Wells, Jassem Hindi, J Jha, Annie Danger, Gerald Casel, Blank Map, and Turbulence. 2017 awards include the Guggenheim and the Sui Generis. Hennessy directs Circo Zero and was a member of Contraband, 1985-1994. 2017-18 gigs include VAC Foundation (Moscow), Impulstanz (Vienna), L’Artère (Québec), Warsaw Flow, Blackwood (Toronto), Movement Research (NY), FRESH (SF), and the colleges San Diego State, UC Riverside, St Mary’s, and Hollins.
Sylvie Denis, a former English teacher, was born in 1963 and lives in Cognac. A short story writer, novelist, essayist, anthologist, editor in chief of Cyberdreams magazine, she is also a translator of science fiction and of fantasy authors, namely Greg Ewan, Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds, among others.
With so many strings to her bow, Sylvie is often considered as the “Grande Dame of French science fiction”! Her novels and short stories (awarded the Solaris and Rosny Aîné prizes) are clearly written with emphasis given to the theme of new technology and its impact on human society. After Jardins virtuels (Virtual gardens) (Folio SF), published in 2003, Atalante published her Haute-°©‐École (High School), awarded the 2004 Julia Verlanger prize, and La Saison des Singes (Monkey Season) in 2007. In its collection “Autres Mondes” Mango has also published two young adult novels: Les Îles dans le ciel and Phénix Futur.
She also likes to draw and creates digital collages and illustrations under the name of Magmaplasma.
Praba Pilar is a diasporic Colombian artist keen on disrupting the contemporary ‘Cult of the Techno-Logic.’ She creates live art, performances, digital and electronic installations, participatory workshops, and experimental public talks. Her projects have traveled widely in all kinds of spaces around the world, and include the NO!!!BOT, the Church of Nano Bio Info Cogno, the Cyborg Soap Opera, and the Nano Sutra of Mathturbation. She has a PhD in Performance Studies from UC Davis, is currently Co-Director of the Hindsight Institute and Disinterpellation Technologies, and is online at https://
Andrew Mount is an English artist and educator whose artwork has been shown in the UK, Germany and USA. Participatory, or socially-engaged art practice has become a central motivating element in Mount’s work; participation in art constituted his doctoral focus which blended historical precedents (such as Joseph Beuys and Fluxus) with contemporary practitioners (such as Superflex and Anton Vidokle). Current artwork includes paintings and screenprints that meditate upon the repurposing of signifiers within the empirical structure of finance (such as greek glyphs); an investigation into the assumption of divine rights, royalty and the dawn of capitalism; a collaborative work that uses custom software paired with anachronistic hardware to present an installation that recodes the aesthetic profile of current political events. Mount gained a BA(Hons) First Class in Painting from the University of Reading (UK), an MFA in Combined Media from Hunter College, CUNY and an EdD in Interdisciplinary Studies in Art & Art Education from Columbia University. He has been living and working in the USA since 1997, and currently lives and works in Oakland, CA. andrewmount.com
Elizabeth Thomas is Director of Public Engagement at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where she produces participatory, performative, site-specific, and discursive projects at both the de Young and Legion of Honor Museums, including upcoming commissions with Ana Prvacki, Jace Clayton, and Anthony Discenza in collaboration with Skywalker Sound. Most recently she served as curator-in-residence with Philadelphia Mural Arts to research and propose new forms of public practice, realizing projects with Josh Macphee, Megawords, and Temporary Services in addition to Michael Rakowitz’s Radio Silence, a radio series and podcast made in collaboration with Iraqi refugees and Iraq War veterans in Philadelphia, recently launched and available on iTunes and PRX. Previously she directed the MATRIX program at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, using the university as both a site and a context for projects considering central questions of research, interdisciplinarity, experimentation, and political and social engagement, with artists such as Omer Fast, Futurefarmers, Mario Garcia Torres, Jill Magid, Ahmet Ogut, Trevor Paglen, Olivia Plender, Emily Roysdon, Tomas Saraceno, and Allison Smith, among others. She has served as faculty in both Curatorial Practice and Graduate Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts, was previously associate curator of contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art and curatorial fellow at the Walker Art Center, and has organized exhibitions independently for the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Mass MoCA, and the Andy Warhol Museum, among others.
Never Work, Symposium & Provocation at Beneficial State Bank, 1438 Webster St., Suite 300, Oakland.
50 years ago, in May, a general strike paralyzed France for nearly a month as modern capitalism was directly assaulted by a broad cross section of society that included workers, students, and the unemployed. The streets, schools and factories were filled with people passionately raising profound social questions among them…why work? Who does it benefit? Is it fulfilling? 12,500 days of tedious employment later, we will revisit those questions in a context that has evolved with automation, human resources management, debt, pseudo participation in decision-making and surveillance technologies masking this social truth: the whole system of work as it exists today has only one purpose: to grow the wealth of our global rulers at the expense of the rest of humanity.
The community was invited to toast friends and frenemies with Molotov-style cocktails and binge on let-them eat cake.
About the Presenters:
Marina Gorbis is Executive Director of the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a 50-year old non-profit research and consulting organization based in Silicon Valley. She has brought a futures perspective to hundreds of organizations in business, education, government, philanthropy, and civic society. Marina’s current research focuses on transformations in the world of work and new forms of value creation. She launched the Workable Futures Initiative at IFTF with the aim of developing a deeper understanding of new work patterns and to prototype a generation of Positive Platforms for work. She has introduced the concept of Universal Basic Assets (UBA) as a framework for thinking about different types of assets and the role they play in economic security. The UBA framework also highlights at a variety of approaches and tools we can use to achieve wider asset distribution and greater equity. Marina’s book The Nature of the Future: Dispatches from the Socialstructed World explores many of these themes and draws connections between the changes in our technology infrastructure and our organizational landscape, from education to governance and health. She frequently writes and speaks on future organizational, technology, and social issues. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in public policy from University of California, Berkeley.
Guillaume Paoli is the author of “Demotivational Training” (Little Black Cart Books) and co-author of the Happily Unemployed Manifesto. In 2008, he was hired by the Leipziger Town Theater as a “resident philosopher” a position no one else in Europe has held so so far. In this role, he created an “External Audit for Meaning and Purpose” and ran a “philosophical office” where city dwellers would come and discuss the topic of their choice. In 2014 he ran a similar project at the renowned Berliner Volksbühne until this theater was taken over by the art market , provoking a huge resistance which he heartily supports. About his latest book “Metamorphosis at Night – On the Gentrification of Culture” (2017) the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote: “Anyone who really wants to know what kind of times we live in and how to reflect about them should read it. Many times.” In January 2018 it was rated among the “ten best nonfiction German books”.
Isaac Cronin is one of the founders of the Situationist movement in the Bay Area. He co-translated “Demotivational Training,” which was nothing like work. He promises to reveal the secret of how he has made himself unhireable but still gets the big bucks with which he funds The Fish Tank.
This event was made possible with the generous support of Beneficial State Bank.
Beneficial State Bank is a B Corp Certified and community development bank whose mission is to build prosperity in our communities through fair and transparent beneficial banking services. We serve individuals, nonprofits, and businesses in California, Oregon, and Washington. Beneficial State Bank is owned by a nonprofit which means we have no private shareholders seeking to maximize profit at the expense of our communities our planet.
We believe that banks should nourish our communities, not extract from them, and so we commit at least 75% of our loan dollars toward a new, inclusive, and just economy. None of our loan dollars can work against our mission. Join the movement by aligning your money with your values. Visit beneficialstate.org/impact to learn more.
Short VIDEO documentation HERE
Intentions. Transfer and Disappearance II by Eva Davidova was a short animation loop, addressing a post-capitalist future in which our future techno-centric identity, constantly manipulated by computers and ‘cold’ data, has the potential to expose the power relationship of control between the powerful and the powerless. This form of a synthetic freedom, largely based on the latest technological advances, is constructed rather than natural. What if we employ the digital tools available to us and use the failure in representation to our own end, as a means of protest? Will we see the emergence of non-dualistic, perhaps even primitive, early version of ourselves? Can this dystopian future be subverted through a software glitch, one that exposes the limitation of technology to authentically represent humanity?
With the flavor of Ballardian science fiction, Eva Davidova uses photography and 2D animation to construct two identical images of a human face. These mirrored images act as a visceral reminder of the failure in representation when reliant on cutting-edge digital tools. The first image remains intact when observed, while the second, a 3D model, in which all gestures and emotions are perceived as mistakes by the software, does not result in the same image. The ‘stranger’ in this case, inhabiting the digital spaces (and behaving on our behalf) acts as a gate through a new type of “otherness”. Welcome to the future!
Intentions. Transfer and Disappearance II was produced with the help of Fan Feng (SF) and made possible by the Zellerbach Family Foundation.
About the Artist
Eva Davidova is a Spanish/Bulgarian multidisciplinary artist based in New York.
The issues of her work—behavior, cruelty, ecological disaster and manipulation of information emerge as paradoxes rather than assumptions, in an almost fairy-tale fashion. Her practice involves drawing, performance, installation, computer generated 3D sculpture and photo-based animation.
Eva Davidova has exhibited at the Bronx Museum in New York City; Everson Museum, Syracuse; Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo; MACBA, Barcelona, CAAC Sevilla; Instituto Cervantes, Sofia; Contemporary Arts Center La Regenta and many others. She received the 2008 M-tel Award for Contemporary Bulgarian Art; the 2009 Djerassi Honorary Fellowship; fellowships for many artist residencies programs; and support from the Shearwater Foundation. Davidova was an artist in residency at Residency Unlimited, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts / Art Works Grant.
Recent shows include Intentions at ZAZ 10 Times Square billboards, Collapse of Vision at Equity Gallery New York, Birds Birth at the ASU Emerge Festival and at the PhotoEspaña Festival in Madrid; the curatorial project Happenland at Radiator Gallery in NY; Playground for Drowning Animals; and Transfer and Disappearance at the Media Center by IFP in New York.
Intentions. Transfer and Disappearance II by Eva Davidova at Frank Ogawa Plaza on May 3, 2018 (Part of our Imagining Post-Capitalism Festival).
Posted by Pro Arts on Friday, May 11, 2018
The Body as Resistance featured the work of two radical local performance artists and cultural practitioners: Titania Kumeh & Jade Ariana Fair. Both Kumeh’s and Fair’s work deals with deconstructing our relationships with the body and it’s role within the capitalistic system of oppression. Through amplifications of their own histories and ancestries, they are actively and systematically subverting the agents of oppression, which spearhead the erasure of black female narratives of struggle, history, healing, and documentation. Capitalism serves as an agent of destruction against the already violenced bodies of the oppressed citizens of earth, and these artists seek to imagine a future beyond violence, beyond erasure, beyond white supremacy, and thus beyond capitalism. In a capitalistic world, radical self care is a revolutionary act of anti-violence and anti-capitalism. Envisioning a post-capitalism within an artistic context is the first step towards better future for us all.
About the Artists:
Titania Kumeh’s performances are meditations on her family, ancestry, and experiences as a first-generation, Liberian-Bahamian American maneuvering through the world in the body of a black woman. Kumeh has performed with the Brontez Purnell Dance Company and in productions by Lisa Rybovich Cralle, Sophia Wang, Wura Natasha Ogunji, and Tropic Green/Adee Roberson. She was the lead singer in the punk rock band Ugly.
Jade Ariana Fair is a multidisciplinary artist living in Oakland, CA. She works across the genre of painting, performance, sound, and installation. She is a socially engaged artist whose social practice extends to arts education with youth and a healing arts practice. She has been making art for as long as she can recall as a form of healing, guidance and self-recovery. She emphasizes resourcefulness in her practice, both her own and that of her ancestral legacy. Her arts education is a populist, community education derived from her own planetary exploration. She counts her influences from such diverse sources as the prophetic science-fiction of Octavia Butler, the body art of Ana Mendieta, and outsider artists such as Bill Traylor and Sister Gertrude Morgan. Her art praxis is both research-based and heavily guided by intuition. She paints what she sees in visions, dreams, and from visceral responses to her study of personal and generational histories. She is a 2017 artist-in-residence at The Center for Afrofuturist Studies in Iowa City.
“Do Androids dream of surplus value? Robotic Labor Exploitation and the Falling Rate of Profit”
As part of the “Imaging Post-Capitalism” Festival (May 1-6, 2018) Kal Spelletich & Chris Carlsson conducted a performative lecture, asking the question of where profit will come from, if the much ballyhooed robotic future arrives as scheduled. And what better way to play with this issue than with some of artist Kal Spelletich’s robots, especially the ones that engage in “affective labor?”
Kal Spelletich was born and raised in Davenport Iowa, recently named “America’s Worst Place to Live.” He started working at his father’s construction company when still a child. Shortly after being given a chemistry set at the age of nine, he started blowing up stuff, experimenting with electricity, fire, alchemy and constructing tree houses and boats to launch on the Mississippi river. Kal ran away from home at the age of 15 and started squatting abandoned buildings and living on the streets. He worked as a dishwasher, cook, carpenter, auto mechanic, day laborer, plumber, salesman, teacher, union factory worker, stagehand, fix it guy. Discovered art through a camera. He somehow put himself through college and graduate school.
Kal founded Seemen, an interactive machine art performance collective, in 1988. Kal has collaborated with Survival Research Labs and countless others from rock bands to scientists, politicians, NASA, Hollywood television and filmmakers. He curates art exhibits and is involved in political activism. He works on the waterfront of San Francisco scouring junkyards and dumpsters for industrial items whose technology can be reapplied. Exploring the boundaries between fear, control and exhilaration by giving audience members the opportunity to operate and control some downright dangerous machinery. His work has terrified and thrilled tens of thousands of people all over the planet, gotten him in trouble with the law and thrown out of galleries. People have cried, he has been threatened with violence and lawsuits and his work has been banned. For 28 years he has been experimenting with interfacing humans and technology to put people in touch with intense real life experiences and to empower them. Kal’s work is always interactive, requiring a participant to enter or operate the piece, often against their instincts of self-preservation.
He sometimes teaches at Universities, lectures, presents workshops and exhibits around the world. And Kaltek University.
VIDEO Documentation of this event HERE.