Debt has been inscribed as a fundamental mechanism of power, force and subjugation in contemporary society and it affects nearly all of us in one way or another through forms like credit card, healthcare, student and mortgage debt as well as our national debt and the indebtedness of nations to one another. While debt is front and center as an issue in both politics and our personal lives, the basis of its control seems directly related to the fact that it is experienced so abstractly. Debt exists as both an absence and a presence. And though debt is socially enforced it is almost always individually experienced and this tension makes it difficult to represent collectively. To Have And To Owe asks, what happens if we work towards undoing debt’s unrepresentabilty? What if we experienced debt as a shared cultural form that is perceptible, communicable or materialized? How can debt be rendered as a nuanced historical, philosophical and even aesthetic problem in all of its social thickness inside American life?
From September 21–October 27, 2012, EFA Project Space presents To Have and To Owe, the live manifestation of a research platform focused on understanding debt and the social relations that debt engenders. A range of artists and theorists whose work deals with questions of financialization, exchange, art’s relationship to debt, and more, have been invited to offer lectures, workshops, performances, discussions, quilting sessions and visualizations to explore this subject and open up a space in which its aesthetic and social dimensions may be considered as part of its economic register. During the five weeks, EFA Project Space will function as an event site, reading room, and accumulative bulletin board where participants and audience members are welcome to post and distribute diverse visual and textual materials around the subject of debt. Commissioned info graphics will provide alternative models to mapping and realizing economic knowledge and a specially assembled debtors library is open to the public including texts that address debt from theoretical, historical and tactical perspectives.
Join EFA Project Space for the opening of To Have and To Owe on September 21st: artist Cassie Thornton will lead the audience to engage with debt’s physical representation, activating it as a malleable substance that might change through collective re-evaluation. There will be a brief introduction about the comprehensive project To Have and To Owe by co-organizer Laurel Ptak.