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For decades, neoliberalism has been a keyword cutting across the curricula and vocabularies of art, cultural studies, and interdisciplinary fields of research. The term is deployed  as a catch-all container for the potent cocktail of deregulation, privatisation, financialisation and austerity that has been shaping political and economic systems for over half a century. Neoliberalism is a shaky and leaky concept struggling to hold an evolving array of economic, social, and political contradictions. There is no lack of systematic analyses, critiques or new designations – authoritarian liberalism, mutant neoliberalism, Illiberal democracy, post-liberalism, technofeudalism – yet none of these seem to fully capture the permutations and micro-revolutions neoliberalism is undergoing . 

With the claims of neoliberalism’s lapse, Weird Economies (W.E.) is giving ear to the tintinnabulations of a Creepin’ Illiberalism rising in its wake. W.E. seeks to examine illiberalism and define its contours as a research object necessary for the experimenting with and forging of “economic imaginaries extraordinary to the financial arrangements of our time.” To this end, and as a starting point, W.E. is hosting a month-long online programme titled The Creepin’ Illiberalist Curriculum.

The Creepin’ Illiberalist Curriculum is a concise online study programme consisting of four Sunday sessions from 12 May to 9 June 2024. The first three sessions will explore: democracy and the political economy, volatility as a concept central to transformations in the political economy, and finally the impact of illiberal tendencies on the art and cultural landscape. The final session will be an online assembly developed by the programme’s students in collaboration with W.E. The assembly will take as its point of departure a conjecture that we will evaluate, reevaluate, review, and dispute throughout the programme. The postulation is that: at least one dimension of liberalism’s decline can be attributed to what can be called Financialised Illiberalism. Shifting from a neoliberal strategy of adaptability and resilience to volatility, Financialised Illiberalism embraces volatility as its core principle, actively embodying it. Illiberalism creeps through the political economy of a world where volatility is omnipresent, at all levels.

The Creepin’ Illiberalist Curriculum is designed by Bassam El Baroni and João Enxuto.

In the framework of the School, artist and researcher Grayson Earle will create a generative multiplayer game in which school participants craft speculative proposals against the incipient Illiberalist threat. The game presents an infinite political landscape where we play to win the world by any means necessary.


Programme:

May 12 - 6-8 PM CET
Seminar #1 - The Democratic Drag
Alberto Toscano

May 19 - 5-8 PM CET
Seminar #2 - Volatility in Context
Gerald Nestler, Vienne Chan, Joshua Citarella

May 26 - 5-6 PM CET
Seminar #3 - Financialized Illiberalism
Steven Klein

June 2 - 5-9 PM CET
Seminar #4 - Art, Culture and Creepin’ Iliberalism
Ben Davis, Max Haiven, Emily Rosamond

June 9 - 5-7 PM CET
Seminar #5 - Assembly
Gary Zhexi Zhang, Steven Klein


Speakers:

Alberto Toscano teaches at the School of Communications, Simon Fraser University, and co-directs the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea (Verso, 2010; 2017, 2nd ed.), Cartographies of the Absolute (with Jeff Kinkle, Zero Books, 2015), La abstracción real. Filosofia, estética y capital (Palinodia, 2021), Late Fascism: Race, Capitalism and the Politics of Crisis (Verso, 2023), and Terms of Disorder: Keywords for an Interregnum (Seagull, 2023). He is the co-editor of the 3-volume The SAGE Handbook of Marxism (with Sara Farris, Bev Skeggs and Svenja Bromberg, SAGE, 2022), Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s Abolition Geography: Essays in Liberation (with Brenna Bhandar, Verso, 2022), and Georges Bataille’s Critical Essays (with Benjamin Noys, Seagull, 2023). He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory and series editor of Seagull Essays and The Italian List for Seagull Books. He is a contributing writer for In These Times

Vienne Chan approaches money as a medium of social sculpture and seeks ways of re-imagining it to better address social needs. She is currently working with social movements in narrative development.

Vienne is on the editorial board for the peer-reviewed journal, Money on the Left. She was a research associate at documenta Institute (2021-22), and has held a European Media Art Platform (EMAP) residency at m-Cult in Helsinki (2020), a Weisman Art Museum Creative Collaboration residency with the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota (2019). Vienne holds a MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies from Bauhaus Universität Weimar, and was a recipient of a Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Scholarship.

Gerald is an artist and writer who combines theory and conversation with performance, video, installation, sound, text, and speech. He also develops and curates postdisciplinary formats of collaboration between art, theory, science and other fields of knowledge and experience. In his research, Gerald focuses on the “derivative condition” of technocapitalism, its models, operations narratives, and fictions. Another area of research concerns “aesthetics of resolution” that activates the term’s semiotic field as a toolbox against proprietary politics of non-transparency. And he explores renegade activism as a way to unlock the imagination for risk sharing agency with the aim to transform critique into resistance as insurrection. Gerald’s works have been shown internationally since the late 1990s and he has also published and lectured widely on art, finance, technology, and media. He is a member of the Technopolitics research group, Vienna, and holds a PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London, where he was a researcher at Forensic Architecture. 

Steven Klein is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory in the Department of Political Economy, King’s College London. His research focuses on democratic theory, theories of political economy and the welfare state, and critical theories of finance. He is currently the principal investigator for the UKRI-funded project Systemic Risk and the Transformation of Democracy (DERISK). He is the author of The Work of Politics: Making a Democratic Welfare State (Cambridge 2020) and articles in a range of journals and magazines.

Emily Rosamond is a writer, artist, and Senior Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. She serves as Associate Editor of the academic journal Finance and Society, Advisory Board member of Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, and Director of Research for Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths. Her research explores how online platforms and financial investment protocols reshape concepts of  reputation, character, and personality. Her recent publications include “YouTube Personalities as Infrastructure” (Distinktion, 2023), “Derivative Character Investments: Social Impact Bonds as Path-Changing Devices” (Journal of Cultural Economy, 2021), “From Reputation Capital to Reputation Warfare” (Theory, Culture & Society, 2020), and a co-edited special issue, “Volatility in Finance, Art, and Culture” (Finance and Society, 2023). Her forthcoming book, Reputation Warfare, explores how online platforms reshape reputation as representational logic and capitalist form.

Max Haiven is a writer, editor and teacher and Canada Research Chair in the Radical Imagination. His most recent books are Palm Oil: The Grease of Empire (2022), Revenge Capitalism: The Ghosts of Empire, the Demons of Capital, and the Settling of Unpayable Debts (2020) and Art after Money, Money after Art: Creative Strategies Against Financialization (2018). Haiven is editor of VAGABONDS, a series of short, radical books from Pluto Press. He teaches at Lakehead University, where he directs the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL).

Ben Davis is the author of 9.5 Theses on Art and Class (Haymarket, 2013), which ARTnews named one of the best books of the decade in 2019, and Art in the After-Culture (Haymarket, 2022), named an art book of the year by the New York Times and the Times Literary Supplement. He has been Artnet News’s National Art Critic since 2016. In 2019, Nieman Journalism Lab reported that he was the fifth most influential art critic in the United States. 

Joshua Citarella (b. 1987, US) is an artist and internet culture writer. He is the author of Politigram & the Post-left (2018) and 20 Interviews (2020). He is the founder of Do Not Research.

Gary Zhexi Zhang’s works explore systemic connections between cosmology, technology and economy. He operates individually, in collaboration and within organisational frameworks. He recently edited a book of fictions, essays and interviews about finance and time, Catastrophe Time! (Strange Attractor Press, 2023). Dead Cat Bounce, the opera he co-created with Waste Paper Opera, premiered at Somerset House in 2022 and tours in 2024. His most recent film and solo exhibition, METAMERS, was presented at EPFL Pavilions in February 2024. His works have been shown at Totalab, Shanghai; UCCA Dune, Beidaihe; Para Site, Hong Kong; Inside Out Art Museum, Beijing. 

He has worked as a Lecturer in Critical Studies at Goldsmiths MFA, a PhD external examiner at RCA, and Adjunct Lecturer at Parsons School of Design in New York, where he also co-founded design studio, Foreign Objects. In 2023, he was an R&D fellow at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai and artist in residence at EPFL, Lausanne. His writing on art, technology and economy have appeared in Frieze, ArtReview, Verge Journal of Global Asias, Journal of Cultural Economy, MIT Journal of Design and Science, among others. Recent/upcoming books and chapters include Against Reduction (chapter, MIT Press, 2021), Incomputable Earth (chapter, Bloomsbury, upcoming), Platforms: Around, In Between and Through (Singapore Biennale, 2023); Future Art Ecosystems III (with Victoria Ivanova; Serpentine, 2022).