iou1 conversation – press night at the Young Vic

Will is just the right side of manic – he’s had a beer.
Poppy is just the right side of lary – she’s had some beers, and some wine.
Hannah glances at her watch.
Rachel… it’s funny, it sounds like she’s playing the hostess, which she is I guess, because she’s introducing people. But she’s also not overplaying the hostess. It’s a subtle performance.
Alex is bright and deadpan, I tell him he looks like Ben Whishaw.
Lily is sober and upbeat.
I’m sober too, and in the mood to explain the iou1 project. In fact, I don’t introduce it, Will does. We’re doing introductions (we’re always doing introductions at these things), so I introduce a game where we introduce one another. Will is being waffly and modest about what it is he “does”, so I big him up a bit and say he’s worked at the ROH, and then Hannah, who’s a publicist introduces Poppy, who’s a director, and then Will introduces me and sets in motion The Conversation. I start off talking about the relationship of exchange and the relationship of gifting. How the project, the iou1 project, is a bid to push back against the all-pervasive logic of financial exchange, and introduce a relationship of gifting into areas of my life where it does not, as of yet, exist, to ask people to think about money and value, to have a conversation about what work is and why it is necessary (it is necessary, I hasten to add, but not as a chore, not as labour for the sake of labour, labour for the sake of subsistence; as a society, we are productive enough for that to not be necessary; but work is necessary, work produces meaning). Poppy says “this sounds serious”, laughs, delighted. She is genuinely delighted, I believe, but I don’t know if she will remember any of it the following morning. Hannah glances at her watch. Rachel and Alex need to leave “be in touch”, “call me”, “bye”, wave. Will has heard it before. He’s going to give me podcast when he does his radio course. But with Lily, Lily to whom I spoke before, it seems to land (or maybe she’s just being polite and a good listener). When I tell her about it (and it’s actually been a while since I’ve had The Conversation, so maybe I’m out of practice) I stumble a little. I do the porridge bit, which works well, but get lost in how the relationship of exchange, the logic of exchange needs to find new areas of activity to expand into, that this is capitalism, that with the emergence of new technologies which reduce the need for labour and therefore profit, capital must find other activities where a profit can be made. I forget to tell her about why it is important to me, why I believe it is dangerous for the logic of exchange to trump other logics. In retrospect, I tell myself this is something I must not forget to include But she is a good listener and it seems to have landed.

 

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