I’m a little late posting this, but the results for this year’s Memefest on the theme of Debt are in! I was invited to act as a curator for the visual communication and beyond… categories, and it was a challenging process, with a lot of work to go through, and to be honest, many projects that I felt missed the mark.
The topic, from a communications perspective, was certainly a difficult one, but I was surprised to see so many projects that focused on literal or superficial interpretations of debt, given that David Graeber’s excellent text was central to the festival outlines. I felt many projects subjectivised debt as an individual problem/responsibility related to consumption, ignoring the systemic nature of debt as social relation that was central to the outlines, where it was asked “can we imagine a different relationship to Debt?”
In light of this, it seems there is a long way to go to challenging the concept of debt, a long way towards/until refusal. But Memefest this year was certainly a great start. The educational component of the festival will hopefully add to the discourse, and introduce it to many that are outside the circles of this particular area of critique. The sheer number of global entries is a very encouraging sign.
Some very strong work was produced, creatively addressing the issue in inspiring and original ways. My personal favourites include:
Katarzyna Pagowska’s On the Other side of the Mirror.
Ashlea Gleeson’s First World Problems
Lukas Lehmann’s Reconsum.
These projects challenge our traditional ideas about what debt is using a variety of subversive tactics (aesthetic, narrative, practical and theoretical), and in so doing transform our relationship to it. I particularly appreciate the participatory communications approach of these projects and how they reconfigure the public and private domain, an intrinsic point of contestation to the problem of debt.
Congratulations to all who submitted work!
I’m also currently working on wrapping up some new designs for this year’s festival. More on that soon!
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