Historically, debt has been an instrument to organize society. Some people make choices that bring them money; others make choices that only create problems and debts for themselves and those around them. The Chicago Religion is transparent in that sense: poetry is anti-economic and periodic corrections in the form of Pavlovian punishment are applied to those who practice it in order to fix the system. If we are to believe in Victorian to modernist common sense, anyone's bank account can go into the negative red numbers as the result of enough wrong decisions, miscalculations, and bad luck. But what happens when we apply OWS-era street smarts, understanding that it is right in the Financial District where the global casino peaks, and decide to play the game knowing the dices are loaded and the House always wins. If we acknowledge that money doesn't exist, that it is just an abstraction, an invention to better keep track of the score of those who collaborate with The System, then how do we liberate and trascend debt? By paying back to the last penny? How to proceed with ecological debt? Do we trade worthless over-issued under-backed dollars in exchange for priceless oxygen from the underdeveloped nations? And how would that solve the personal debt of the first world middle classes? Should we demand a better re-distribution of the loot or the abolition of sovereign debt? Yet, if debt is to be abolished, how do we deal with historic debts like those created by colonial appropriation of goods and free labor (slavery, mita) and their continuations and transmutations in neocolonial forms? With presentations by artist Fran Ilich, curator/academic Jennifer Flores Sternad and others. This event is organized in conjunction with the exhibition To Have and To Owe.
Fran Ilich is a writer and media-artist working on creative practices of experimental economies and finance, hacktivism and narrative media. He was a fellow at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York, and is CEO of the Diego de la Vega cooperative media conglomerate. Ilich is author of the novels Metro-pop (1997), Tekno Guerrilla (2007), and Circa 94 (2010), as well as Another Narrative is Possible: Political Imagination in the Age of the Internet, the English version to be published by the Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam. He was editor at large of Sputnik Cultura Digital magazine, screenwriter of the show Interacción (Discovery Channel Latin America), researcher at Centro Multimedia México, and manager of the literature department at Centro Cultural Tijuana.
His work has been presented at Berlinale Talent Campus, Documenta 12, Transmediale, MIT Media In Transition, Walker Art Center, NYU, The World Bank, The Economist Mexico Summit 2011, Antidoto, SXSW, Electronic Literature Organization Symposium, and the Festival Mundial de la Digna Rabia del EZLN. He also directed the festivals Cinemátik 1.0, <net.net.net.mx> (MOCA - CalArts), and Borderhack, and directed narrative media seminars at Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, in Sevilla. He won the 2010 Leonardo Foundation scholarship to study at the M.A. program in Media Arts Histories at Donau-Krems Universität, Austria.
Jennifer Flores Sternad’s work as an academic, curator and writer focuses on militant art, performance, and artistic practices aligned with left social movements in the Americas. Her work has been published in Art and Activism in the Age of Globalization; Live Art in LA, 1970-1983; MEX/LA: Mexican Modernisms in Los Angeles; Zona de Poesia Árida, Coletivos de Arte; Haciendo Tiempo: Arte Radical, 1999-2004; The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinas & Latinos and in the journals GLQ, Contemporary Theatre Review, The Journal of American Drama and Theater and Interreview. She has curated and directed exhibitions, conferences and public art events in L.A., Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Santiago and she is co-founder with Fran Ilich of the research/media art project Collective Intelligence Agency. She received a Bachelors degree in Literature magna cum laude from Harvard in 2005 and a Master’s degree in Art History from UCLA in 2008. She entered the NYU PhD program in American Studies in 2010.