Last Wednesday, Kadist Art Foundation and curator Christina Linden hosted a conversation with artist Laurel Ptak, the author/founder of Wages for Facebook, a manifesto (based on the 1975 manifesto Wages Against Housework) that calls for a reconsideration of what it means to participate in a system of for-profit social exchange. To a packed house, Ptak began her talk by showing slides of publications that have printed information, opinions, and reactions to her project Wages for Facebook; then transitioned the crowd to small-group discussions of four questions regarding Facebook and value; then to a whole-group discussion/Q&A session.
Ptak presents and criticizes Facebook as a business model that accumulates enormous capital based on the activity of unpaid individuals (its users). One participant at the Kadist event noted that the nature of the evening mimicked the very structure it claimed to subvert, and pointed out that the small-group discussions funneled energy and intellectual production (labor) into a format where only a single individual (Ptak) stands to benefit. In this case, the social and intellectual capital accrued by presenting at a prestigious institution such as Kadist stand in for the capital of a financial asset—although one can surmise that future monetary benefits might also be gleaned in the form of awards, residencies, speaker fees, etc. Though the event was certainly thought-provoking and raised interesting questions about the role of labor and intellectual property in social media, the inherent contradictions of the project also warrant further discussion. The images below show the different portions of the event, and we encourage our readers to learn more about the project and come to their own conclusions.