Debt Positive — Re-envisioning Debt

Debt Positive was one of Flux Factory’s 2016 major exhibitions.

Curatorial Statement:

For three weeks in June Debt Positive invites you to bring interest to bear on indebtedness that is shared openly and not exclusively. Debt might be the fundamental basis of human relations, but today it is also tricky business. Individuals shun it, but organizations seek to go into debt in order to grow. Debt seems to drive the economy yet appears abstracted to absurdity. Most people in the US share debt, yet debt is borne out privately. How do we put our finger on the debt, which is everywhere powerful and nowhere seen? Through an evolving exhibition, performances, and workshops Debt Positive beckons people to re-envision debt, sublimate it, and consider possibilities for eliminating it’s wasteful implementations.

Many of the artists in Debt Positive were kids at the dawn of Reagan’s “Morning in America”, which saw the transformation of the United States from the world’s biggest creditor to its biggest debtor—a status maintained by the US today. As the relationship between debtors and creditors grows more abstract the chance for miscommunication increases. Debt plays out on many frequencies to produce an affective field of precarity for which this exhibition aims to make space. Cassie Thornton’s site-specific paintings for financial institutions, the solidarity building workshops of Rolling Jubilee cofounder Thomas Gokey, and the postcapitalist performances of Nathaniel Sullivan milk the incommensurability of debt’s empirical and emotional dimensions. The participatory systems of Cayla Lockwood’s “Free* Sandwiches” and PEEP’s “” celebrate debt accumulating structures of compounded irrationality. Lisa Hirmer’s “Tablets of Working Bees” beckons viewers to contribute to a collective account of debt and labor using a material that is inherently mutable. The artworks and workshops of this international group of artists leverage a transmedia approach well suited to chopping at the necks of debt’s many heads – from the financial to the microbial. Because debt is a moving target, the works in Debt Positive live in a state of flux and tempt viewer investment. 

Participating Artists Included: Sarah Beck, Paolo Cirio, Eliott Eds, Jeanne-Marie Gavarini, Thomas Gokey, Lisa Hirmer, Cayla Lockwood, PEEP – Paul Esposito and Evan Paschke, Sarah Peterson, Brittany Powell, Nathaniel Sullivan, Cassie Thornton, Ellen Wetmore, Moira Williams.

Curated by Caitlin & Misha