December 7 | cesare pietroiusti | economic principles and artistic use of paradox (ACT Fall 2020 Lecture Series)

Cesare Pietroiusti, Money-Watching, 2007. Performance. Photo: Chris Keenan. Courtesy: Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and the artist
ACT at MIT

Monday, December 7
2pm EST
Virtual Lecture

Speaker: Cesare Pietroiusti
Respondent: Jesal Kapadia

Non aes sed fides. Georg Simmel, at the very beginning of the XX Century,  proposed his concept of “spiritualization” of money in capitalist society. It is not the “bronze” (aes) that assure strength and stability to economy, but faith (fides) that makes everyone believe that things cannot work otherwise.

In this lecture Pietroiusti will present a certain number of artistic projects and participatory performances that, by diverting or playing with economic principles, attempt to create temporary areas of freedom where faith is suspended and rules become tools and toys, instead of single or double binds.

Cesare Pietroiusti (Rome, 1955) started his career in Psychiatry in 1979. He focused his early work as an artist on social psychology in relation to art. His work progressed into social projects that examined problematic and paradoxical situations that are hidden in common relationships and in ordinary acts – thoughts that come to mind without a reason, small worries, quasi-obsessions that are usually considered too insignificant to become a matter of discussion, or of self-representation. He taught at the Laboratorio di Arti Visive, IUAV University, Venice from 2004-2015, and in the LUCAD program at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, from 2009-2016.

Pietroiustiwas the co-founder and editor of the Artist-run space “Jartrakor” in Rome (1977-1985) and of the magazine “Rivista di Psicologia dell’Arte” (1979-1984), and co-founder of “Nomads & Residents”, New York (2000). He was also one of the coordinators of the “Oreste” projects (1997-2001), the conference “How do I explain to my mother that what I do is useful?” (Link, Bologna, 1997) and  “Oreste at the Venice Biennale” (Biennale di Venezia, 1999). Pietroiusti served as curator for the CSAV, the Advanced  Visual Art Course at the Fondazione Ratti, Como from 2006-2011.

Currently, Pietroiusti is a member of the colletivo Lu Cafausu, where he is one of the initiators of the “Festa dei Vivi che riflettono sulla morte – The Celebration of the Living who reflect upon death” (2010 – ongoing). In 2015 he founded the Fondazione Lac o Le Mon, a center for artistic research and experimental pedagogy, San Cesario di Lecce. Since 1977 he has exhibited, in solo and collective projects, in public or private spaces, inside or outside the art system, in Italy and abroad.

ACT lecturer Jesal Kapadia is a Mumbai-born artist based in New York. Employing various mediums such as the book, the archive and the photograph, as well as experimental video, drawing, writing and performance, her work explores the potential forms of non-capitalist subjectivities. Her aesthetics and affections are drawn from an ethical praxis of being-in-common, tied to the cultivation of an awareness of art that is place-based, diversified, multiple, small-scale, collective and autonomous, generating affinity for time and space that is feminist and anti-colonial in nature.

More recently she has been engaged in organizing, living and thinking with different artists and communities of care (Platform for Feminist Research on Violence in New York, minima somatica, Casa Blu, Transversity at Casa Cafausica-Lac o le mon, Free Home University, And…And…And) that have come together to create autonomous and collective spaces and situations through which to refuse, dis-identify, empty-out, re-arrange, destitute, reclaim and re-enchant the capacity of art in creating new forms of life, especially in response to the political, economic and ecological catastrophes that we live in. Several self-organized encounters, alternate pedagogies workshops, conversations, films, texts, images, sounds, movements, interviews and ephemera, or what could also be imagined as living archives for building new knowledges and new sensibilities have emerged through these processes.

From 2001-2015, Jesal co-edited the art section for Rethinking Marxism (a journal of economics, culture and society) as well as frequently organized with members of 16beaver group (an artist community and space in downtown New York that functioned as an open platform for discussion, critique and collaboration). An affiliate and teacher at the International Center for Photography NY, she has developed and taught a number of seminars and workshops in their General Studies/Creative Practices Program, as well as at The New School for Public Engagement and Cooper Union School of Art. Her lecture-performances and workshops have been hosted at several artist-organized contexts, the most recent ones being Sensibile Comune at the Gallerie Nazionale d’Arte Moderna Rome; Common Infra/ctions at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Paris; the Summer School at Caffé Internazionale, Palermo. Her installations and videos have been presented at ICA Boston, Experimenta film festival India, Anthology Film Archives, New Museum in New York, amongst several other venues.