Caveat is a collective research into the ecology of artistic practice. It is initiated by Jubilee, in partnership with Open Source Publishing, No New Enemies and Été 78. Caveat tries to find more sustainable, balanced ways of operating within the existing legal frameworks. And when the limits of the existing system are reached, it tries to come up with possible new narratives that open up space for reflection.

Caveat Reading Room #8 with Scott William Raby

Sound registration of Caveat Reading Room #8 with Scott William Raby

People present: Scott William Raby
Koen Berghmans
Jerôme Sancassiani (legal adviser)
Grace Ndiritu, artist
Gatien Du Bois
Jan (maker, 'questioning a lot about work')
Katleen Vermeir
Julie Van Elslande
Stijn Van Dorpe
Kobe Matthys
Joris Vermeir
Marine (artist)
Michiel Reynaert
Florence Cheval
Ronny Heiremans
Jesse van Winden
Christian (art theory & philosophy)

05:30 Introduction by Scott
Artist Placement Group (APG): artists inside corporations, institutions, government agencies in Britain. Started by John Latham and Barbara Stevini, ran until the 1980s. Recent examples in which Scott is involved: Social Sensibility, Diakron. Other books relevant in this context: Gielen, Pascal & Nico Dockx (eds), Commonism, A New Aesthetics of the Real, 2018, on Commoning (artists engaging with the tools of capitalism); Feher, Michel, Rated Agency: Investee Politics in a Speculative Age, Zone Books, 2018 How to find a space for agency within an hegemonic capitalist context?
As an artist with an American background, Scott thought it would be interesting to give an American perspective.

12:20 Scott: Nick Srnicek is young political philosopher. Theories about a post-capitalist scarcity.
With Alex Williams (co-author) key persons in left accelerationism and post-capitalist theories.
According to Scott, this is a good starting point to think about the aims of the artist placement group and possible new ways of producing and organising.

15:40 Scott reads a fragment as introduction

17:00 Reading from beginning

26:00 Kobe: Shift within technology from private to public. For instance, Wageningen University is advocating to take GMOs from big corporations.
Gatien: But what is public? Technology in government's hands isn't necessarily democratic or open-source.
Ronny: This has to do with questions of ownership.
Discussion between Michiel & Scott about technology and work

34:00 Reading from 'While the...'

38:30 Grace: But what will poor people do, within this proposal?
Scott: It would be coupled with the demand for an universal basic income.
Gatien: But would we really have free time then?
Grace & Ronny: work vs constructive activities
Michiel: Under the present condition these forms of automized production would be in a context of competition. But having the possibility to have my work done by robots doesn't keep me from starting a community and doing it still.
Ronny & Grace about class problems (?) and work ethics
Scott about David Graber: This will happen, let's embrace that, why don't we try to automate processes and focus our political energy on ....

47:00 Reading from "But there are important..."

55:00 Christian: Counter-hegemony sounds interesting, but it would be more useful to discuss why and how we would repurpose precisely the capitalist automatization of work.
Grace: He doesn't discuss the negative implications of automization at all.
Michiel: Shouldn't it be about how design is always linked to a certain concept of desire?
Jesse & Katleen: technology for capitalism is finished soon often feeds into extra-capitalism...

1:02:00 Scott & Gatien & Jesse on (im)possibility of repurposing in a capitalist era where automization is instrumentailzed towards private ownership
Scott & Ronny & Michiel on work ethics & surveillance systems, f.i. China. The private seems to become the public.

Reading from 'Organisational Economy'

Scott: It's kind of a bold claim to state that organisations don't have to be horizontal. An engineer told me that his company is going towards horizontality, less hierarchy & management. Rather engineers & accountants coming together. In Denmark, this is a trend of management now. It's interesting then that Srnicek & Williams defend hierarchy in political movements.
Michiel: To what degree does that lead to technologies & products that work for social horizontality at large? Michiel describes hierarchical multiplicity in the positions of some of his co-workers.

Scott on Occupy movement. If it wasn't so fetishistic in horizontality it could have sustained longer.

Joris & Grace on movement of money in top-down vs horizontal structures

Koen: In companies, people are in the same ideology of being paid by the company, whereas in an activist context, people take a lot of time to trust eachother and become transparent. Between bottom-up groups this problem appears even more.

Katleen on commons of water in Naples. Transformed a stock-listed company into a public one. But the necessary efficiency turned out to be a problem, especially because activist groups were always quarreling. But a common company was created.

Scott bringing the discussion back to APG. Utopian dimension on a macro-political scale. On a micro-level, 'infiltrating' in companies. Creates an interesting framework to think about APG as not being a more clever entrepreneur but thinking about organisational practice where artists can create different models of creating capital.

Stijn: APG was sometimes considered as a failure, projects where often not so interesting, the Art Council rejected them while they reappropriated it later.
Kobe: Used documentation to create research within organisations, mobile employees in hierarchical structures.
Ronny on beginnings of APG.

Kobe & Scott on the potential of artists in organisations