n.e.w.s. is a collective online platform for the analysis and development of art-related activity, drawing upon contributions from around the globe, bringing together different voices, accents and outlooks from the North, East, West and South. | Read more..


Friday, 25. January 2013 | 01:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Uselessness, Refusal, Art, and Money (encounters with David Graeber's Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value).


On Reading  Alone

I report here on an encounter with a book, and an encounter with the problems of reading itself.  The book: David Graeber's Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value.  which I picked up following the trail of Marcel Mauss' The Gift (Graeber's book is a meditation on the differing visions of Mauss and Marx for economic life as read through the lens of anthropology).  If you operate outside of institutions, which I typically do, one book leads to another and another along solitary and idiosyncratic paths.  You often find yourself in a cloud of companionship with people you've never met, some living, some dead, some speaking native languages you have no acquaintance with.  This is thrilling, but a little surreal. As you'll see, Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value was a pleasure to wrestle with and test ideas against, but for me it also represented the moment where I turned from an ideal of books engendering books in the future, to books as a way of making relationships in the present.


Toward an extraterritorial reciprocity: beyond worldart and vernacular culture

One of the leitmotivs of n.e.w.s., I take it, is precisely the idea of shifting, displacing, moving with an eye to all the cardinal points of the compass. Though real “geographic diversity” is mentioned in the project presentation, geography - like the sort of conceptual mobility also foregrounded in the write-up - provides a metaphor for understanding the condition of art today and its blithe refusals to acknowledge its disorientation and recalibrate its sextant.