Within the framework of my research into Asger Jorn´s writing and thinking I organize public sessions with special guests at a variety of venues. The guest´s practice, knowledge, insights, or responses are informative to my research, or steer the direction I take on a particular topic. The sessions also often respond to the context of the hosting institution, or to a specific request. Making the sessions public is a way to share and enter into a dialogue with the audiences.
‘Producers-Parasites-Hosts’ was a collaborative performative lecture with Amsterdam-based artist Annabel Howland and part of “The Non-Serious Lectures” (on economy and value) programme at the Athens Biennial – AGORA 2013. It took place on Thursday 28 November, 2013, in the disused National Bank of Greece Building (the former Stock Exchange), in Athens. Using the building of the former Athens Stock Exchange as its main venue, AB4 proposed AGORA not only as a place of exchange and interaction, but also as an ideal setting for critique. The main focus of this programme was to highlight and discuss the shortcomings of the economy.
I invited Annabel Howland to turn part of her work-in-progress ‘Producers-Parasites-Hosts’ into a 20-minute, multi-channel sound piece with slides, ‘Producers-Parasites-Hosts (Athens Mix)’. The work contains a multitude of voices, including research-scientists-turned-investment-bankers, a leading evolutionary biologist, economists, and an HFT expert, speaking about parasitical and productive relations. Parasites never benefit their hosts. So why would cooperators benefit their hosts at their own expense? And what is the role of ‘cheaters’? Through intricate editing, Howland builds up a speculative web that draws lines between art, finance and science. A documentation version of her sound performance can be found here: http://www.annabelhowland.nl/blog/athens-mix/
Howland’s artistic research into the world of finance and mutually beneficial relationships in biology stimulated me to develop a lecture that looks into Jorn’s ideas on the position of the artist in society. The lecture is to a large extent based on Jorn’s publication ‘Value and Economy – A Critique of Political Economy and The Exploitation of the Unique’, but is also indebted to Graham Birtwistle’s insightful publication ‘Living Art – Asger Jorn’s comprehensive theory of art between Helhesten and Cobra (1946-1949)’. For the lecture in Athens I compiled a somewhat ironic give-and-take chart, between artist and society. When Jorn provides ‘arguments’ that cannot be quantified, or balanced out on a chart, I discard them and proceed with explaining his notion of a ‘living art’. Here is a link to a sound recording http://www.annabelhowland.nl/blog/athens-mix/.
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