The ambition of Goethe-Institut Bratislava's lecture series The Gift That Keep on Giving is to investigate gift exchange as a latent promise of a post-capitalist economy-to-come, tailored for the 21st century's condition of the deep human entanglement with the planetary reality. While last decades marked tremendous intellectual development with respect to historical, political, and ecological conceptualisation of this entanglement, its economic underpinnings remain unclear. But one thing is clear for sure: the reality of a late capitalist platform economy, which opens towards a range of post-capitalist futures spanning new models of exploitation as well as those of planetary cooperation. Under such circumstances, can humanity as a biological species give itself the most generous of all gifts it seems to be capable of, the gift of just, dignified, autonomous and communal existence?
Audience & questionsBy its definition, Goethe-Institut Bratislava supports the development of cultural practices in the broadest sense, spanning contemporary visual and performative arts, design, architecture, or digital media. The Gift That Keeps on Giving series understands workers in these fields as stakeholders in crafting the future economies of gift and cooperation. Since the idea of ‘sharing economy’ has been largely monopolized by corporate digital platforms, the institutional framework of cultural practices must be rethought, so that it points beyond cooperation and gift exchange as just an adaptation to precarious conditions, and so that it does not turn both terms into an alibi of institutionalized economic austerity. That brings some crucial questions into the foreground: What are the concepts and instruments the cultural institutions and workers need to act prefiguratively in the development of new economic models? What paradigms of such action are available across disparate geographies, histories, and cultural contexts?
The big pictureThe emergent big picture the series provides is both planetary and situated in its scope. It pleads for a larger integration of heterodox economic thinking into the education of cultural workers, and into their institutional practice. In order to do so, the series traces alignments between insights of theorists, anthropologists, economists as well as cultural organizers, that together capture what can be expressed by a charming, composite German expression Gelingensbedingungen – the landscape of conditions of possibility of a prefigurative pursuit. As this landscape unfolds before our eyes, one may even discover these conditions of possibility has been already here for a very long time, perhaps even from the beginning of time’s counting.
All events are held in English online via Zoom
Event NO.1: When is a gift not a gift?
x 9th of June 2022 x - Event postponed – new date to be announced soon
Online lectures by Victoria Ivanova, moderated by Lukáš Likavčan
‘When is a gift not a gift?’ – asks Baron Harkonnen in the recent movie incarnation of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’. The aim of the first session in this event series is to understand the condition of the gift economy today, which oscillates between folk economies of self-help on the one hand, and narratives appropriated by platform economies (for better or worse) on the other hand. Our guest speakers will focus on organisation of gift economies in the context of artistic institutions and practices of subsistence in Eastern Europe.
Event NO.2: Stoffwechsel
14th of June 2022
Online lectures by Eva Fraňková, LukáŠ Senft and Rafael Moscardi Pedroso, moderated by Lukáš Likavčan
In German, ‘Stoffwechsel’ means literally ‘material exchange’, and it is often translated to English as ‘metabolism’. This event will cover two perspectives on connotations of exchange and metabolism, to build theoretical foundations that lead to appreciation of more-than-human economy. We will see how to approach gift economy from the vantage point of Kojin Karatani’s ‘The Structure of World History’ (2011), and we will also get familiar with current perspectives on socio-economic metabolisms in ecological economics. Zoom meeting link
Event NO.3: Communism comes as a gift
October 2022 Online conversation TBA, moderated by Lukáš Likavčan
Annotation: The eschatology of Kojin Karatani’s world-historical perspective lies in the promise of a gift-economy-to-come, the second coming of communism that overtakes and transcends all earlier modes of exchanges. The open question remains: What platform or medium can facilitate this economic transition?