On Value | Artists Space

Meanwhile, at Artists Space in New York, a discussion around the value relations of art production…

October 3, 2015. Marina Vishmidt, Melanie Gilligan, Lise Soskolne, Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz and Silvia Federici will lead a discussion around the value relations of art production, and what kinds of (feminist) value-critical politics can create transversal connections between crises in the different spaces where we practice.

Departing from the challenges posed to value as it is reproduced in the spaces of art as in the political economy at large, we want to focus on how those challenges can and have been formulated through practices of collectivity, poetics, feminism, de-coloniality, technology and politics around race. The labor of reproduction and a non- or alter-reproductive futurity are close parameters here. Three main approaches to value will be pursued: conceptual, economic and the living-deathly of identity categories.

A few potential questions we could try to consider in our thinking for the day and the panel could be:

– What are the categories of value, gender and labour doing in and for our politics?
– Thinking about how labour and value circulate in, across and beyond specific communities, questions around the reproductive commons, and how that can relate to ‘speculative practices’ of collectivity (Harney and Moten) and prefiguration on a restricted scale.
– Collectivity – how it is extended and how it is barred in the horizons of current social movements and in capitalist social relations, especially as mediated by technologies (and can we consider value as one such technology)?

Since the past week of the WE (Not I) program has presented discussion on collectivity from a feminist viewpoint, the question we would like to begin with is what, at present, are some of the most significant obstacles facing collectivity? Judging from the name of our event today, you would imagine that our answer might be that the answer to this question can be revealed through a closer a study of value. This may be an answer in part, however today we are presented with so many obstacles to the creation of truly collective political and social forms and a collectively decided future. Gender oppression is one of them. So are the many dimensions of racism. These have often been dealt with inadequately within the the feminist movement, along with class. How do those who are resistant to gender and racial oppression make places to live, to sustain and grow their work and communities while trying to fight for better conditions? In what ways does the need for a wage mediate our subject positions in capital? How are our abilities to get that wage made more or less possible based on race and gender, and how does the supposedly unprejudiced and tradition-dissolving agency of money actually end up maintaining and sharpening these oppressions? We’d like for once not to see value as an abstract category but expressed in the lived particulars of how people encounter its dynamics through the daily occurrences of exclusion and other violence propagated in these societies mediated by value.

The Wages for Housework movement teaches that bringing the often excluded edges of value production into the conversation on value can teach us a great deal about its operation in capitalism. This awareness is underscored today by the knowledge that under the present conditions of austerity, women overwhelmingly are the ones to take the brunt of this strain because it is precisely in the interstices of home and working life, cost-saving, and money-stretching that the daily reproduction of one’s life and the lives of others transforms subjects and takes its toll on them. Topics left out of a traditional Marxist consideration of value are important to our discussion on this panel: the ambiguously or intangibly unmeasureable areas of care work and affective labor are unavowed pillars of the present economy just as are the use of the prison system to control unemployed and racially profiled populations. In order for the system of capital accumulation to sustain itself more and more of the institutions and networks that reproduce social life are made to function to fit the needs of that accumulation. This event will be about mediating these larger systemic concerns through reflecting on our own practices in all the scales at which they unfold.

Structure of Day

11 – Intros, setting out themes of day
12.30 – presentation by Aliza Shvarts on ideas around ‘radical sabotage’
1.30 – Lunch
2 – W.A.G.E./Lise Soskolne and Abigail Levine on values, bodies, wages: performance in the visual arts
3 – Melanie Gilligan on her recent work The Common Sense and collectivity in capitalism today
4 – Marina Vishmidt – some capsule summaries of the social reproduction debate in Marxist feminism then and now
5-7 – break
7 – Roundtable with Silvia Federici, Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, Lise Soskolne and Melanie Gilligan, facilitated by Marina Vishmidt