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Art After Money, Money After Art author Max Haiven on a Post-Work Society, Tea Sandwichs, & Sh*t Disturbing

Maax Haiven

Making art is work, but within our capitalist system, the relationship between money and art is anything but straight forward (cue all those corporate clients looking to pay for your art in "experience" and "exposure").

Assumptions abound about the way artists do and should relate to payment, the implications of being compensated to create, and the essential relationship between art and money, even as it becomes harder and harder to make a living in any artistic field.  

Enter Max Haiven, whose Art After Money, Money After Art: Creative Strategies Against Financialization (Between the Lines Books) takes aim at these assumptions and complications, offering guidance for artists and activists looking to hack capitalism on behalf of the arts. 

We're excited to welcome Max to Open Book in celebration of the upcoming publication of Art After Money (available August 27!). We get to know the man behind the book today as Max takes our version of the famous Proust Questionnaire, a kind of personality quiz that was beloved by Proust and his friends.

Max tells us about an encouraging extravagance, the type of sandwich you could best tempt him with, and offers an extremely relatable answer to the question "What would you like to be?" 

The Proust Questionnaire with Max Haiven: 

What is your dream of happiness?

I dream of a type of happiness that doesn’t yet have a name in our colonial languages, one that is not individual but collective, where everyone has what helps them to thrive and make their best contributions to the common good. I have very little interest in personal happiness and think the current obsession with it is a curse on our society.

What is your idea of misery?

Slowly watching the world be destroyed unnecessarily while everyone pretends to be happy by buying stuff that is destroying the world. 

Where would you like to live?

In a society that actually valued and supported everyone’s wellbeing and capacity to contribute to the common good. I guess having a view of a lake or ocean is a pretty nice way to enjoy that sort of society.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

Humble compassion.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

Good aim.

What is your chief characteristic?

A sort of glacial fury.

What is your principal fault?

A sort of glacial fury.

What is your greatest extravagance?

An allegedly delusional faith in the capacity of humans to organize themselves without coercive hierarchies or dramatic inequalities.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

Their incapacity or unwillingness to organize together without coercive hierarchies or dramatic inequalities.

What do you value most about your friends?

Righteous cunning.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

Moral laziness.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?

I have a truly appalling weakness for small triangular tea sandwiches on white bread, usually served in venues that would never willingly invite me.

What is your favourite virtue?

Cooperation.

What is your favourite occupation?

Becoming a post-work species. Like dogs: they don’t work anymore, but still find value and pleasure in themselves, and in almost everything else. If it weren’t for the fact that the rich have monopolized technological advances for their own benefit, we as a society could have eliminated a huge percentage of awful, alienating jobs. But we’re obsessed with jobs and working, still, as if it’s the only way we can find value. 

What would you like to be?

Dog is sounding better and better.

What is your favourite flower?

That of the Immortal Stranger (spathodea campanulata). Categorized as one of the world’s most invasive species, this plant has very special powers to abolish colonial landscapes, real and imaginary. 

What is your favourite bird?

I recently read a story about eagles attacking military drones.

What character in history do you most dislike?

I mostly dislike the sickening worship of certain historical figures that erase the horrors they unleashed, and whose veneration legitimates present-day horrors. Like Winston Churchill, for instance, who among many other atrocities happily caused hundreds of thousands of people to starve to death in India. Or the slaver, mass murderer, and rapist Christopher Columbus, after whom a country and half a Canadian province is named. When we honour these spirits we license them to continue their dark work in this world.

Who are your favourite prose authors?

Recently I have been lost in admiration for the work of Eduardo Galeano, Maggie Nelson, and James Baldwin, each of whom tells stories that awaken the radical imagination.

Who are your favourite poets?

I love Dionne Brand both for her poetry and for her courage to speak hard truths in public. 

Who are your heroes in real life?

My parents have been stalwart activists and trouble-makers for their whole lives, my mother since she was kicked out of high-school for organizing a political reading group. They’ve worked on a lot of very unpopular causes and suffered for it, but history has proved them right.

Who is your favourite painter?

I recently heard of a group of anarchists who shoot water balloons full of paint at surveillance cameras.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

I would like to be a better storyteller.

How do you want to die?

Right now, in almost any fashion other than starving to death or perishing of radiation poisoning in the nuclear winter triggered by a fascist clown’s depraved geopolitical antics.

What is your motto?

Why is there a pile of shit there waiting to be disturbed in the first place?

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Max Haiven is Research Chair in culture, media, and social justice at Lakehead University. His books include Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power, Cultures of Financialization, and The Radical Imagination.

Buy the Book

Art After Money, Money After Art: Creative Strategies Against Financialization

We imagine that art and money are old enemies, but this myth actually reproduces a violent system of global capitalism and prevents us from imagining and building alternatives.

From the chaos unleashed by the ‘imaginary’ money in financial markets to the new forms of exploitation enabled by the ‘creative economy’ to the way art has become the plaything of the world’s plutocrats, our era of financialization demands that we question our romantic assumptions about art and money. By exploring the way contemporary artists engage with cash, debt, and credit, Haiven identifies and assesses a range of creative strategies for mocking, sabotaging, exiting, decrypting, and hacking capitalism today.

Written for artists, activists, and scholars, this book makes an urgent call to unleash the power of the radical imagination by any media necessary.

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