Mauro-Flude, Nancy (2020) ‘Artistic Way to Tackle a Thorny Issue’ The Mercury, p.23
The Thorny Question of Art and Economy: A Conversation Piece 20.02.2020
Eros & Thanatos, MONA, Main Road, Berriedale Tasmania.

Presented by Feral MBA, Despoinas Media Coven and Favour Economy

Circle: Claire Field, Nancy Mauro-Flude, Kate Rich & Guests: Esther Anatolitis, Sinsa Mansell, Megan Walch

Interventions: Hexis(T)sensual

Performance lecture: FoAM Earth.

Sponsored by means of the kind provision of space by 24 Carrot Gardens.

This is a staged conversation to consider the thorny question of Artists and Business anew. Rather than harnessing ‘creativity’ as a driver of productivity and economic growth, what radically different tactics and vistas could artists and designers - whose work is intrinsically involved in navigating business and economics - open up?


Against the sizzling backdrop of a growth economy whose credentials to maintain a habitable planet have unarguably failed, the discussion of alternatives are urgent. We are interested in the potential of artists – blessed/cursed as they are with rich repertoire of strategies for survival and livelihood - as marginal yet powerful avatars for rethinking what business and economics could mean.

What if we cease assessing our activities against prevailing norms and measures of economic ‘success’, but imagine them instead as nondeterministic prospects for living in their own right? What other fundamentally different ways of doing business could be possible? And if these were here all along – How to re/ignite them?

Our topics, tactics and trajectories range from business and administration as a site for actual politics, somatic literacy, wild imaginaries and meaningful action – to alternative economies, engaged autonomy, tactical strategies for the gender-technology relationship, conceptualising AI and bullshit, funding and divination, x and X.

This slithery philosophical filibuster and experiential scrum will serve as a satellite event to the Feral MBA, a radically different kind of business school for/with artists, which took place in Hobart over February 2020
REPORT 05 07 2020 on The Thorny Question of Art and Economy: A Conversation Piece

Since we all converged at MONA life has been quite overwhelming and tremendous. For many of us, we are dancing and negotiating various situations with competing priorities and pressures ever mounting, leaving us (or me at least) with a perpetual feeling of walking upon a tight rope.

This event was conceived to validate potential of artists as Kate Rich has said 'blessed/cursed as they are with a rich repertoire of strategies for survival and livelihood - as marginal yet powerful avatars for rethinking what business and economics could mean'. And there lies the, irony, then, that at the same time we were conceding this event the ‘arts’ were removed from the title of the relevant Federal government department (December 2019) partly on the grounds of the need to “improve decision making”, the risk is that artists and the wider community are excluded from the processes which shape the development of the technologies they use.

Creative artists skill sets entails high-level, subtle decision making that are less compliant to machine substitution, whilst to claim a decision about anything is pure science, is in fact not-scientific, but more importantly it is politically irresponsible and naive. Data analytics gleaned from digital surveys, shape dominant discourses about what constitutes appropriate social and cultural practice and production. The posturing of ‘climate models’ while hypocritically hating ‘algorithmic governance’ exposes the reason why the need to diversify energy sources and tame greenhouse gasses should not be only about climate change, but also reveals the need to value creative approaches to innovation, enhanced communicative equality, healthier technologies, improved education of our children, less monopolies give way to local production and consumption of food and hence our public economy.

Many people suppose politics to be about managing our infrastructure and economy just like in the fire crisis, we see it now the corona virus emergence; unfortunately, a scary premonition of the type of state control we can expect in the future where it will be all about urgency. Many forms of public activism too are forms of virtue signalling, often privileging some modes of social performance over others. just as our education system has systemic socioeconomic inequality, gleaned from the high levels of illiteracy in our state. All the while people defend the use of ‘climate models’ for policy making, it shocks me how these same people rarely see communicating the same type of argument, defending the use of algorithms in for instance: criminal justice or unemployment benefits is pertinent. We make decisions on inherited principles that are frequently alien to us but leaving it up to the ‘state’ we avoid responsibility and assume our Big Daddy Government to keep us safe and not expose us to any risk, this attitude basically screams for an authoritarian government. And then we are amazed when they come into power: be it our Prime Minister, or the head of the university art school.

It’s rare to have tolerance for ambiguity - it requires courage, to first sense, feel before affirmative [re]action. It’s challenging to provide structure and guidance whilst being faithful to the ephemeral. Thus, together we probed and tested alternative modes of knowledge exchange in the Conversation Piece. It’s quite normal that solutions aren’t distilled then and there. For some experimentation may seem on the surface elusive but events such as these sharpen our ability to maintain an openness - to read the situation, the world around us and respond with our veracity (instead of contracting into habitual comfort zones of defense). This allows us to take care for the beings around us - not retreating into a realm of automation and survival, builds rapport and seeds grounds for flourishing [at other times]. Tacit unspeakable unraveling revealing questions - emerged for many of us at the time or in retrospect.
The is archive contains some of the offerings made and fond memories of the participants and audiences mettle. This ‘A Conversation Piece’ manifested with the original intention was to support Feral MBA.

It is important to give a wider Tasmanian public a window into grass roots work that often goes on without wider knowledge – and bring in people who see things differently to create a diverse pool of awareness and consideration for that important knowledge. I folded in Claire [co founder of Favor Economy as a strong project around feminism and alt-economies].

It is only now recall that I’ve been thinking about trade and networks since about 2005 in arguably, more aesthetic ways.

Initially a conversation piece that was a bit more conventional was proposed - we were coordinating and communicating in the witching hours across continents and states - and thus the event morphed into a more experimental indeterminate experience of which you all became the willing actants and I became artistic director [in some ways…]. With that said, for whom ever reads this the wisdom shared and those whom converged met and/or made new connections were quite formative.

After some distance - I’m brewing an event that has more tangible outcome and thus will keep in touch.
Admittedly looking back on the spirit of this time - after the bush fires - green shoots of hope were sprouting. A vast cataclysm was emerging on our periphery - I feel slightly naïve re reading the opinion piece I wrote as a lead up to the event
Albeit, hope springs eternal - it is the time for humanity to respond to this planetary schism. To reconsider our sense of scale – and rid the grotesque inhumanities of greed and imperialist lack of diversity. When I inhale – and exhale - I imagine this is possible…

With that said I hope you are of good health and spirit -when you read this report that Closes the Circle of our Thorny Conversation Piece 20.02.2020.
[Feral MBA]
[Favour Economy]