Thunder Bay, Ontario and Bay Area artist Cassie Thornton talks about:
Her origins in northern Illinois, where she mainly grew up with a mom who struggled financially and was at the cutting edge of the downside of the financial crash, which planted an early seed for Cassie to eventually make artwork about debt; how she applied to CCA’s (California College of the Arts) Social P-Word program 3 months after the deadline, in a fever dream, and went on to have a seminal experience there, including attempting to start an artist-in-residence in the school’s finance department, and other feats of radical imagination; the genesis of her seminal artwork, “Give Me Cred!,” which started with her and a colleague deciding to not pay their credit card bills, and eventually led to her creating alternative credit reports for people based on their wherewithal to survive ‘a financial system that’s trying to eat them alive,’ and then become a way for them to get jobs and apartments; exactly why she advertises on her website, thefeministeconomicsdepartment.com, that “if you steal my idea, tell me how it goes;” why she moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario (primarily to co-run the ‘Reimagining Value Action Lab’ with Max Haiven at Thunder Bay University, but also for other reasons); why she finally gave up living in the Bay Area, after having lived in a succession of 6 places over a very short period; her Oakland pop-up real estate project ‘Desperate Holdings,’ which was part spa, part faux real estate agency and total social engagement project, in which she got to know many of the residents, including becoming friends with a woman who was nearly a daily presence there; and her video “I trusted you I trusted you I trusted you,” a marginalized yet epic piece which is representative of the out-of-the-box work that has led to a very bizarre fan base, including a feminist hedge fund that reached out to her to be their artist-in-residence.
In the final episode with Art After Money author Max Haiven, we talk about:
The history of and the current fate of artist collectives, as prompted by a listener’s thoughtful question; Le Freeport, the ultimate art storage facility, a crypt-like structure which Max visited in Singapore, and describes his experience of being there, and subsequently we discuss what a Freeport, a crypt for rich people’s art and antiques, means for the greater world of financialization; the structural violence (systemic violence) committed by the global capitalist elite, and their tendency to morally insulate themselves from their actions, up to and including building escape hatches and bunkers from New Zealand to Mars; Debtfair and Strike Debt, collectives that formed out of Occupy Museums, which itself was spawned through Occupy Wall Street; the art world politics that led to the creation of Art Prize, and how its populist response to the secretive and collusion-oriented market art world has been a problematic response; how Debt Fair, which was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, operates by calling out the institutions and sometimes even individuals whom participants are literally indebted to; what the future of debt in the U.S. and beyond looks like, vis-à-vis mainstream political support for eliminating debt; the Commons, as seen in collectives formed during the Occupy movement and also how they manifest in relation to art and the history of art; Max’s call for the abolition of art as borne out of the abolition of prisons, and in asking the question “what if were to abolish art?,” including museums, galleries and other institutions, what would creativity then look like?; and how everyone, not just billionaires, but even artists, create structures of avoidance to carry on with our work and not get into too dark of a place.