NEXT WEEK: Social Practice lecture at ARTSEEN

Hi WARP grads!

Wanted to invite all of you to come to the lecture I am organizing at ARTSEEN next Tuesday 2/3 at 7pm.  We briefly looked at an article from the book “What We Want Is Free: Critical Exchanges in Recent Art” last semester when we were discussing Social Practice. The artists who authored the book will be here to give a talk.   I am attaching the article “No Longer Normal: Critical Exchanges in the Landscape of Art” to this post if anyone is interested in reading it.



No Longer Normal-Purves, Selzer1

what we want is free cover

Public Lecture:
“What We Want Is Free:
Critical Exchanges in Recent Art”
Ted Purves and Shane Aslan Sezer
Tuesday 2/3 at 7pm
48 Flagler Street, Second Floor,
Miami, FL 33131
Explores how contemporary artists use gifts, barter, and other forms of nonmonetary exchange as a means and medium of artistic production.

This revised edition of What We Want Is Free examines a twenty-year history of artistic productions that both model and occupy the various forms of exchange within contemporary society. From shops, gifts, and dinner parties to contract labor and petty theft, contemporary artists have used a variety of methods that both connect participants to tangible goods and services and, at the same time, offer critiques of and alternatives to global capitalism and other forms of social interaction. Examples of these various projects include the creation of free commuter bus lines and medicinal plant gardens, the distribution of such services as free housework or computer programming, and the production of community media projects such as free commuter newspapers and democratic low-wattage radio stations.

Like the first edition, the second edition includes a detailed survey of artists’ projects from around the globe, as well as critical essays and artists’ texts that explore the underlying social history and contemporary issues that further inform our reading of these works. This new edition also features a new introduction and additional chapters on the relation of exchange practices to democracy, the commons, object-oriented philosophy, and an examination of the impact of ongoing globalization on the economics of artists’ projects. It also features a significantly expanded scope for the project histories, including work from the past decade and a new section dedicated to artist-initiated organizations and innovative models for new institutions.

Praise for the First Edition

“If you are an artist, read this book. No matter how you define and structure your practice, the essays within What We Want Is Free will lead you to consider important questions about how you work and what kind of life a project can lead.” — Nailed Magazine



Ted Purves is a writer and artist based in Oakland. His public projects and curatorial works are centered on investigating the practice of art in the world, particularly as it addresses issues of localism, democratic participation, and innovative shifts in the position of the audience. His two-year project, Temescal Amity Works, created in collaboration with Susanne Cockrell and based in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, facilitated and documented the exchange of backyard produce and finished its public phase in winter 2007. His collaborative project Momentary Academy, a free school taught by artists over a period of 10 weeks, was featured in Bay Area Now 4 in 2005 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Ted recently received a visual arts grant from the Creative Capital Foundation and a Creative Work Fund grant from the Elise and Walter Haas Foundation.  Ted Purves is the chair of Graduate Fine Arts program at California College of Arts in San Francisco.


Shane Aslan Selzer is an artist, writer and organizer whose practice develops micro-communities where artists can expand on larger social issues such as exchange, critique and failure. Selzer is a founding member and Co-Director of Global Crit Clinic, an international peer learning network for artists working to diversify the field by sharing tools for participation. GCC is currently an artist in residence at Triangle Arts Association in Brooklyn, NY through a program titled, Letters to the Art World. Selzer is the Co-Editor of, What We Want Is Free: Critical Exchanges in Recent Art (SUNY Press, 2014). The book examines a twenty-year history of artistic productions that both model and occupy the various forms of exchange within contemporary society; from shops, gifts, and dinner parties to contract labor and petty theft. In each of these projects Selzer assembles spaces where people can learn through interaction with others by provoking discourse that is informed by circumstances that are too often held “outside” of art.

Shane is a professor of Art at The New School for Liberal Arts at Parsons in New York City.


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