Art and money


In the company of Hanson’s circle of people from the world of finance, such as Rotschilds, Jagoda says, one only talks about art, while artists among themselves talk mostly about money. («Moje kuće, moji snovi», an interview with Jagoda Buić, Globus, no. 1086 , 22 July 2011)

Saturday, 20 April 2013 (11-13h & 15-19h)
Gallery Miroslav Kraljević, Šubićeva street 29, Zagreb

Speakers: Annie Dorsen, Fokus group (Iva Kovač  & Elvis Krstulović), Andrew Haydon, Marko Kostanić, Jelena Vesić


Yürsel Arslan, 'Kapital', series, 1973-1974, installation view, 11th International İstanbul Biennial, photo: Vesna Vukovic

Yürsel Arslan, ‘Kapital’, series, 1973-1974, installation view, 11th International İstanbul Biennial, photo: Vesna Vukovic

The seminar Art and money is the final part of the thematic cycle under the same title within the framework of the program Micropolitics, which in various formats (workshops, lectures, projections, discussions) explores the (im)possibility of artistic articulation of the social function of money. Starting from the claim that money is not a closed system, but plays an important function in the structuring of various societies in various cultural contexts and historical conditions, we decided to go beyond economic examinations, and to explore this complex and politically dense theme on the background of art. The final seminar brings together research that will be gathered and published in the thematic issue of the performing arts magazine Frakcija. The forthcoming issue of performing arts journal Frakcija, under the working title Art and money can be considered a follow-up to the 2011 issue entitled “Artistic Labor in the Age of Austerity”, which attempted to articulate the first steps in the materialistic analysis by questioning the state of politics and the economic logic of public finances as determined by the so-called austerity politics, the constitution of an autonomous art field from the perspective of establishing the market of wage labour, the political function of culture, the relationship between cultural policies of higher education and the operational mechanisms of the media, the artistic treatment of the conditions of reproduction in terms of political economy, and the logic of self-organization in artistic work, including its methods of production. By follow-up, we mean a close reading of chosen artistic works/practices and positions in order to understand how is this layer of capitalist reality, that is, money, reflected in artistic processes and narratives. We are interested in money as an artefact, as a physical object, but also as an abstraction. How is art dealing with the (im)possibility of representation of money, considering that money is relation? How are the processes of value creation functioning in the artistic world, where we are dealing with a particular type of goods? How is political sovereignty of money economy (financialization) reflected in the artistic language? What does dematerialisation of the reproduction of capital mean in the art field, especially on the basis of conceptual art’s idea that something ephemeral, flexible, short-term can resist its dependence on conditions of reproduction?

The seminar will bring together several researches in progress, and some of them will be presented here for the first time. It will work as a meeting point of research notes where participants, together with the interested audience, open towards a joint reflection.



Marko Kostanić
Art and Money: from epistemology to politics

The paper will focus on a simple, but important question: why is art necessary in order to understand the social function of money? Are there artistic mechanisms, actions or instruments which have a privileged epistemological approach to the question of money? If so, do they presuppose the lack of economic and sociologic analysis which then compensate or serve as supplementary epistemological tool? Or are they used as visual help, ornaments or mystification? If we presuppose that for the understanding of money as a social phenomenon we do not need cognitive mapping of artistic origin, are we then only moving in the domain of agitprop? Always having in mind that art as a social practice is the result of a certain social division of labour, I will try with the help of Marxist theory of money and several examples from artistic practice to articulate political implications of the question I pose in the beginning.


Jelena Vesić
‘Administration of aesthetics’ or subterranean streams of contracting art work: between love and money, between money and love

In my presentation, I would like to engage with the ideologies of “administration of aesthetics” placing in focus unofficial and para-legal forms of work agreements (production of content) as dominant forms of contracting delivery or participation in cultural events/publications etc.

The main question would be how is the discomfort of talking about art as work, and as a paid job, distributed through this para-contractuality. Or, in other words, how exactly is this discomfort between the relative autonomy of art and real heteronomy of work positioned in negotiations that firstly affect independent and flexible content makers or precarious cultural workers. The concepts of «love» and «money» will be thought through in a co-extension of a tense relationship between autonomy of art and heteronomy of work which survives either on idealistic presuppositions of the love towards creation, knowledge, beauty (Plato), disinterested pleasure (Kant) or social responsibility of a public intellectual (a specific form of socially useful work), as well as on materialistic presuppositions of the liaison between ideology and economy as basic (self)exploitation of cultural work (including objective difficulties in quantification and normativization, and, consequently in financial compensation for this type of work).

Jelena Vesić’s research is dedicated to the politics of representation in art and visual culture, practices of self-organization and politization of cultural work. Her curatorial practice often experiments with frameworks, methodologies, and contextual and collaborative aspects of art.

15:00 – 19:00

Annie Dorsen

Annie Dorsen works in a variety of fields, including theatre, film, dance and, as of 2010, digital performance. In 2008, she co-created a Broadway musical Passing Strange, which she also directed. Annie will talk about some practical issues regarding her experiences in the commercial theatre sector, such as how the imperative of having to sell the performance to as many people as possible influences its production to the greatest detail, how it influences its structure, its form, its focus, and what are the specificities of such theatrical machinery. She will engage in a close-reading of a work process and of value creation in a Broadway type of production.


Andrew Haydon
A chronological account of selected pieces seen on the British stage between 2009 – 2013 and the way that they suggest a marked change in strategies for portraying money on stage

I intend to argue that at the beginning of the “credit crunch”  – which became “the financial crisis”, which became “the recession”, which became “the global financial crisis, the double-dip recession and the euro-zone crisis” – representations of “money” occurred mainly within the context of staged plays, which adapted either classic works of literature, factual situations, or personal accounts of the nature of the crisis (or earlier, similar crises, scandals, crashes, etc.). As “the crunch” spiralled further into catastrophe, representations of money correspondingly became more tangible, more physical and more violent, culminating (thus far), in audience members being invited to shred their own money on stage or watch performers bat 10,000 pounds-worth of coins about a stage for their entertainment.

I also hope to offer a few thoughts on what all that might mean, and where British theatre might go from here if it wishes to defy prevailing cultural/financial circumstances and present alternative futures.

Andrew Haydon was a freelance UK theatre critic (FT, Guardian, Time Out, etc.). He was also the editor of the CultureWars theatre section between 2000-2010. Most recently, he has written the history of British theatre in the 2000s for Methuen’s forthcoming book ‘Decades – Modern British Playwriting: 2000-2009’. His blog, Postcards from the Gods, is here:


Fokus grupa (Iva Kovač & Elvis Krstulović)

Exploring art as a field of human labour and political activity, Fokus group reflects on the history of art of the 20th and 21st century as a history of changes of social and economic relations between cultural workers and artists. Using various examples, we are looking for an adequate way of marking of entwined and often fragmented narratives. The research includes cannonized actions, such as Artist Worker Coalition, via the attempt of legal regulation of art system on the examples of Seth Siegelaub, Daniel Buren, Sanja Iveković, Dalibor Martinis and others, as well as less available informations on local events related to the group Earth and Croatian naive art. In the framework of the seminar, we will present segments of research based on particular case studies.

Through their activities, Fokus group questions the ideas of political and subjective in cultural and artistic production. In accordance with a materialistic understanding of artistic practice Kovač and Krstulović explore legal, economic and social consequences of artistic production and methods by which politics takes hold of and instrumentalizes emotions.