Moneylab#3: Failing Better is scheduled for 1–2 December 2016, again in Amsterdam. A two-day symposium will be accompanied by a series of workshops from art collectives, designers and activists featuring investigations into artist contracts, experiments in digital publishing, artist revenue platforms, p-2-p co-operatives, and experiments in universal basic income. Stay posted for more announcements, calls for proposals and collaborations.


After Bitcoin forked, and remains in tatters, it is now blockchain technology that ignites visions of de-regulated and decentralized organization, all the while it is simultaneously being sanitized by commercial banks. Meanwhile the sharing and “service” economy lost its innocuous veneer and streaming services have failed and continue to fold the music industry. Despite the escalation of crowd-funding into crowd-equity and platform co-operatives, artists and designers struggle to financially support themselves. Meanwhile, the financial mediators of the previous centuries continue to drag themselves onward into global debt.

We are failing better, nonetheless. Worker’s unions are on the rise and numerous collectives are working together to collectively insure their own wellbeing and build alternative models of social governance. The aspirations of grassroots organizations such as Diem25, that promise to liberate social democracy from the stronghold of global finance, are gaining momentum across Europe. People’s parties such as Podemos and 15M even neared an electoral majority. This momentum has thrust radical economic alternatives into the central stage and governments around Europe have begun experimenting with progressive policies such as a living working wage and a universal basic income.

The search for economic forms of governance in the service of the commons remains urgent. Issues of trust, scale, distribution and ownership remain at the core of developing alternative models of economic exchange and governance and need to be addressed. Let’s prefabricate a perfect storm of untimely thinking and experimental engineering in order to interfere directly into hard-core social and economic issues.


Session 1: Global Finance: Failing Better?

Beyond the culture of celebs, what comes after Ewald Engelen, Thomas Piketty, Yanis Varoufakis and David Graeber? How can we build bridges between economists and their critique of global finance, neo-liberal policies, financialization, shrinking middle classes and the ever-growing gap between rich and poor? Can we address the gap between the best selling financial book of the year and grass-roots social resistance?

‘Global Finance: Failing Better?’ addresses the need for a multitude of critical strategies that go beyond analysis and step up the game into action. As scores of citizens amass in public squares as part of Nuit Debout or campaign for political reform with people’s parties such as Podemos or the Five Star Movement, will the original underlying critique against global finance retain its sense of urgency? How has popular economic critique propelled or even overshot its evaluation of the financial crisis? Can popular economic literature engage directly with the current social movements to become, more than just a conversation piece, but a potential manual to reroute the austerity economy.

Session 2: Big Pocket is Watching You!

The explosion of new forms of alternate currencies and the persistent refusal to do away with physical cash indicates growing public concern over the way in which electronic monetary exchange enables large scale data surveillance. In a world without cash, every payment becomes traceable, allowing for unprecedented amounts of data to be collected on citizens. As more and more shops and retailers in large cities reject cash in favor of electronic money, important issues regarding privacy, data and surveillance become central to the future of money. These concerns echo wider debates around data and surveillance – the Apple vs. FBI backdoor encryption case has highlighted the mounting tensions between commercial and governmental data surveillance. The financial upheaval and internal reconfiguration of monetary transaction provides an optimum moment to discuss the future of money and digital banking.

What alternatives to electronic money can prevent citizen surveillance and inspire radical visions of the future of money?

Session 3: The Music Industry: The Last Dance?

The music industry is still in repair after the initial disruption of digital downloads and streaming sites in the mid 1990s. Traditional rights management laws continue to restrict the creation, distribution and profitability of music. In addition to this, public performances are now monetized with the use of audio recognition technology in music venues, turning bars, clubs and festivals into sites of data-based economic revenue for major publishers and labels.

How does this play in the ever-growing festival and club scene? What is the vision for a global industry that now relies on counting streaming playbacks and selling hand-made band t-shirts? Can the outcry for alternatives be met with distribution platforms that disrupt the dominant players and reach larger audiences? And how is the club scene itself being affected by the ongoing real-estate boom in the metropolitan areas, usually seen as the birthplace of new music currents?

Session 4: When Art Mirrors Marx

Artists are vital to de-constructing how finance and economics have affected our collective imagination, and to re-imagine alternatives. Artists have been monitoring, tracking and intervening into finance to provide new insights and potential escape routes. Moneylab#3 invites artists from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to present research, experiments and interventions into finance.

‘When Art Mirrors Marx’ presents a selection of artists that invert and disassemble the intrinsic value of art to re-imagine the scope of artistic production and distribution. We present works that reflect on the endemic characteristics of the 21st-century economy, and that initiate alternative value systems, from designing stock trading algorithms, to occupying private banks to eating and digesting of pages from ‘Das Kapital.’ What happens when life imitates finance art? Can artists’ investigations into finance create viable alternatives for the masses?

Session 5: Whose Commons?

‘Whose Commons’ is a timely examination of the commons as ideological battleground. Amidst a fresh wave of digital initiatives that focus on shared collective resources, that range from car-pooling to collective farming, the sharing and social support upheld within the commons has spilled into commercial ventures that see the virtue of the commons as the essence to a better future. As the values of the commons are incorporated, manipulated and brandished by both business models and co-operatives alike, how should we reflect on and manage our relationship to the often-idealized notion of the commons? As businesses and co-operations increasingly advance towards de-centralized, p-2-p business models what are the core values associated with the commons that we want to retain and permeate into wider social movements?

For further information please contact [email protected]

Originally published here.

Photo by grace_kat

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