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/performer, post-capitalism.

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/curator at the forefront of this change?

Video Documentation of “Energy Plan for the Western Man: Art After Capitalism” HERE

About the Presenters:

Keith Hennessy
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
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
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

Andrew Mount
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.

Elizabeth Thomas
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.

Event Documentation (VIDEO)