On Tuesday, July 17, MFA Art Practice hosted “Alternative Economies,” a panel discussion exploring social and creative practices that challenge the status quo. The panel was moderated by Ben Davis, senior writer for artnet News.
Arlen Austin and Jason Boughton of Hanns Eisler Nail Salon presented clips from Comrades of Socktown, a children’s show about the daily struggles of working class sock puppets who learn lessons about combating capitalism through collective activity.
Performance-maker Jen Abrams discussed the merits of barter as opposed to a cash marketplace, a philosophy she puts into action through her work with OurGoods and WOW Café Theater. OurGoods is a network enabling the direct exchange of goods and services among creative people. WOW Café Theatre is an East Village performance space that offers community and support for women and transpeople.
Meredith Degyansky discussed her project “Hey Sallie,” which invites student loan debtors to submit letters to Sallie Mae proposing a barter system—labor for the company in exchange for decreased balances and interest rates. Degyansky shared her recorded phone conversations with Sallie Mae representatives, humorously illustrating the extreme burden that student loan debt is for many individuals, while critiquing the structure of current lending practices.
The event was well attended with a lively question and answer session following the panelists’ presentations. Upcoming events organized by MFA Art Practice include “(Not) Here, (Not) Now,” a screening of works by faculty and students, Open Studios and a zine launch in Brooklyn.