Un-quantifying value?

Michael Birchall, Xi Bei, Micha Bonk, Kristoffer Gansing, Renata Gaspar, Dafna Maimon, Hanne Lippard, Alex Roemer, Lorenzo Sandoval, Sumugan Sivanesan, Morgan Sutherland, Pelin Tan, Ben Vickers, Tessa Zettel

June 15, 2015

How can you value art or, in general, work that is not solidified into an object or a clear service? Our economic system has been upgraded into affective capitalism meaning that it can achieve to do exactly that. But the only way to achieve that, is for it to be able to designate value to all kinds of things that were once uneconomical. A consequence is applying economic reasoning in every human activity…

On June 15th, we gathered at the Institute for Endotic Research with a rather large group of people to discuss the above problematizations. It went somehow like this:


M.B.: Why are artists naturally inclined to do things for little or no money?

M.S.: They are not doing things for free, they get social capital in return.

M.B: I don’t believe in social capital!

D.M.: What characterizes artists is that they choose on their own to do things.

M.S.: I think the question could be rephrased: what is interesting about the ‘goodwill economy’? Apart from the artworld, think about wikipedia, open source software..

P.G.: Facebook…

V.K.: Maybe the gift economy theory has an answer: people have an inherent wish to be valued as givers.

K.G.: I think its interesting that economical reasoning has been inserted everywhere, in all sorts of social spheres and activities. It’s like saying, why waking up in the morning, without being paid for it?

B.V.: “Dollarsign of the mind”…. I think you should frame the scale: are we talking about planetary scale intervention?

M.B.: Religion is a good example then.

M.S.: I sense a dissatisfaction with the quantification of value. What is interesting about un-quantifying values?

VK.: The fact that you can never really measure value precisely and that now everything like personal things and social relationships are fungible, meaning translatable into money, caught into this misrepresentation of their value.

L.S.: Quantification is a tool for separation.

K.G.: The problem is who is capturing the value.

R.G.: Perhaps playing with the elements of pleasure and satisfaction is already disrupting of the system of quantification. How more ‘rich’ are we out of this discussion?

P.T.: I have worked for a project that was trying to hack the system from the inside and I can tell you is really difficult. It took 3 years to figure out all the legal stuff. When money generation is part of the artwork’s concept which is hosted by an institution, then who has the right to owe all these donations?

B.V.: I believe that, at the moment, there is interesting possibilities at the moment for artists to get VC funding and then create a whole different discourse. What if Silicon Valley becomes a studio practice?

Michael Birchall

Michael Birchall is a curator, writer and PhD candidate. He has held curatorial appointments at The Western Front, Vancouver, Canada, The Banff Centre, Banff, Canada, and Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Germany. His writing has appeared in Frieze, Frieze d/e, thisistomorrow, Modern Painters and C-Magazine as well as various catalogues and journals. Michael is a lecturer on the Curating Program at the Zurich University of the Arts, and is co-publisher of the journal On Curating. Forthcoming projects include: Exhibiting the Social at the ERC in Liverpool, and together with the Zurich Kunsthalle, They Printed It! Invitation cards, press releases, inserts and other forms of artistic (self-) marketing. He lives and works in Berlin.

Kristoffer Gansing

Kristoffer Gansing is the artistic director of transmediale – festival for art and digital culture, Berlin. For the past 15 years he’s been working as a cultural producer, artist and media researcher at the intersection of film, net culture and urbanism. He is co-founder of The Art of the Overhead (2005) and 2007-2010 was an editorial board member of artist-run channel tv-tv in Copenhagen. Between 2001 and 2011, he taught the theory and practice of new media at the K3, School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University. In 2013 he completed his PhD thesis, entitled Transversal Media Practices, a study dealing with media archaeology, art and technological development.

Renata Gaspar

Renata Gaspar is a performance artist working with video, sound, and text across issues of mobility and spatial practices. With a background in Dance, she holds an MA in Performance Making (Goldsmiths, London), and she is currently undertaking a practice-based PhD (Roehampton University, London), which seeks to investigate creative practices of place-making. Renata is interested in exploring potential suggestions of counter-hegemonic spatial practices through collaborative, discursive, and processual approaches to art-making.

Hanne Lippard

Hanne Lippard UK/NO, b. 1984, is a writer and visual artist living and working in Berlin. Her texts are at the base of her time-based works, which include short films, sound piece and performance. She has performed and exhibited at Bielefelder Kunstverein, Berlin poetry festival, Kunsthalle Wien, Austria, Transmediale, Berlin, UKS, Oslo, KW, Berlin, Berliner festspiele, Kinderhook & Caracas, Berlin, Galerie Parisa Kind, Frankfurt, Thomas Fischer Galerie, Berlin, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Meat Factory, Prague, Marres, Maastricht and Poesia en Voz, Mexico City, and will be participating in the 5th Moscow Biennal later this year. Hanne Lippard is the recipient of the Ars Viva Prize, Association of Arts and Culture of the Germany Economy at the Federation of German Industries, for 2016.

Lorenzo Sandoval

Sandoval works in the crossing points of artistic practice, curatorial processes and spatial design. He holds a B.F.A and a Masters in Photography, Art and Technology from the UPV (Valencia, Spain). Sandoval has attended international residencies in Berlin, Portugal and Kenya. He was production manager of the EACC (Castellón, Spain). Within Transeuropa Festival, Sandoval organized the project ‘Visualizing Transnationalism’ together with Emanuele Guidi. Sandoval has won several curatorial prizes such as: Inéditos, with ‘Around Is Impossible. An Exploration Of The Unexpected In the Cartographical Systems Of Goggle’, in La Casa Encendida (2011), The Can Felipa Curatorial price with ‘(…) Science, Territory and Subjective Narratives‘ and Curatorial open call 2012 with ‘Case Report‘ in Nogueras Blanchard. He has curated ‘The Rescue of the Effects, Notes For a Theory of The Reader‘ at General Public (2012); ‘Field Studies‘ (2012), ‘Osmosis‘, together with Gabriela Acha, ClubTransmediale Vorspeil and ‘Disruptive Patterns. Plans, Plots and Movements‘at Altes Finanzamt. He has participated in shows such as at ‘<Circuito:Berlin>‘ at Instituto Cervantes (2012), ‘Say it Loud. On Words and Actions‘ at District (2012) and ‘Handlungsbereitschaft‘, Motorenhalle, Dresden, (2013). He presented the project ‘Office Party. Multidimensional Spectrum of Voices‘ at Rosa Santos Gallery (Valencia) and Kinderhook&Caracas (Berlin). In collaboration with Susanne Husse, he has developed ‘dissident desire‘ at District (Berlin). ‘Mutant Matters’, produced together with S.T.I.F.F., was commissioned by Savvy Contemporary (Berlin) and presented at ar/ge Kunst (Bolzano).  At the moment, Sandoval is developing project ‘Spaces of Anticipation‘ with Emanuele Guidi for EACC and ar/ge Kunst.

Sumugan Sivanesan

Sumugan Sivanesan is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and academic. He completed a Doctorate of Creative Arts at the Transforming Cultures research centre at the University of Technology Sydney in 2014. His practice-led research concerns histories of anti colonialism and transnational cultural strategies for decolonisation, with reference to recent theories of the moving image, networked culture and discursive arts practice.

Pelin Tan

Pelin Tan is a sociologist and art historian. She concluded her PhD on socially engaged art in urban space and her post-doc on methodology of artistic research at MIT. Tan researched artist run spaces and urban justice in Europe (2004), Asia and Japan (2012, 2015). With Anton Vidokle, she is the co-director of sci-fi film episodes 2084 about the future of art. She is a member of video collectives Artıkişler/videoccupy and bak.ma, an open digital media archive of political movements in Turkey. Tan is an associate professor at the Architecture Faculty, Mardin Artuklu University, Turkey. Her forthcoming publication is ARAZİ (Sternberg Press, CSP serieBerlin, 2015). Pelin Tan is member of The Silent University.

Ben Vickers

Ben Vickers is a curator, writer, explorer, technologist and luddite. Currently Curator of Digital at the Serpentine Galleries, is Co­Director of LIMAZULU Project Space, a Near Now Fellow and facilitator for the open­source development of unMonastery, a new civically minded social space prototyped in Matera, Southern Italy during 2014 and now set to replicate throughout Europe 2015/16. During his spare time he contributes to EdgeRyders, co­runs the nomadic talks programme The Thought Menu and host’s Open Funerals.

Yap is known for its stone money, known as Rai, or Fei,: large doughnut-shaped, carved disks of (usually) calcite, up to 4 m (12 ft) in diameter. Their value is based on both the stone's size and its history. Photo: Eric Guinther