Usus Pauper feature in DIS Magazine: The Franciscan vow of poverty in the cult of art

By ACT Lecturer Howie Chen.
Poverty has always held a special value in the cult of money. In 1209, Saint Francis founded a Roman Catholic order dedicated to a life of poverty, chastity, and religious devotion. Central to the Rule of Saint Francis is the vow followers must take: the renunciation of property ownership and a judicious commitment to the limited “poor use” or the usus pauper of material goods. There is an implicit vow-of-poverty embedded in the myth of art, one which externalizes the market and its imperatives to maintain the space of meaningful art production. In transvaluing the Franciscan vow of poverty and usus pauper in a secular register, we can perhaps assess the current impoverishment of the art producer and this double game between the artist and the market at hand. Through this analysis,  the practice of contemporary art making becomes our secular usus pauper – our urgent impoverishment as a medium for critical production.

Read the full article.