paper rolls on string
Photo: Dave Beech

Global Imaginaries of Economic and Aesthetic Values – Launching seminar

Culture and languages

The research project Imaginaries of Value, led by Erling Björvingsson and funded by the Swedish Research Council (2023-2028), is launched with an open seminar in the Glass House at HDK-Valand.

24 Apr 2024
13:00 - 17:00
Glashuset på HDK-Valands innergård, Vasagatan 50 ingång Chalmersgatan

The seminar will explore key ideas related to value imaginaries. Specifically, it examines the intersection of value imaginaries and globalisation in contemporary art and design. The focus is on tensions that arise between speculation and material reality when aesthetics, labour and everyday life are articulated where global and local processes intertwine. The project thus starts from the contemporary notion that we live in a global village, economically and aesthetically, and this has fundamentally changed the understanding of art, economy and subject creation, while old value hierarchies remain.

The seminar consists of three talks exploring value imaginaries in an unequal world of coeval coexistence. Costas Lapavistas and Dave Beech will discuss value imaginaries related to art and labour, Jordanna Matlon and Erling Björgvinsson will discuss how cultural and economic expression is conditioned and resisted within racist capitalist imaginaries and Elena Raviola will discuss how socio-technical imaginaries of value and aesthetics intersect in digital infrastructures.

The format and the speakers

The seminar is organized in three dialogues, inquiring into imaginaries of values in the uneven system of global “coeval coexistence”, in which they are produced aesthetically and economically and whose aesthetics and economics they produce.

Dialogue 1 – Art, work and imaginaries of value
Costas Lapavistas and Dave Beech will discuss imaginaries of value related to art and work

Dialogue 2 - Racial Capitalism and Cultural Expression
Jordanna Matlon and Erling Björgvinson will engage in a dialogue on the relationship between racial capitalism, gender and popular culture. Matlon’s research probes how “Blackness” operates as a signifier, intersects with gender norms, manifests in popular culture, and illuminates our understanding of political economy in urban Africa and the African diaspora. She uses history and ethnography to theorize racial capitalism and the political economy of patriarchy in the production of Black masculinity. Björgvinsson is currently working on preparatory work related the service and campaign geared at young adults and their reproductive health and future gains in Ghana. He is interested in how the design company IDEO, Marie Stopes Kenya, and Marie Stopes International, who developed the service and campaign, activate imaginaries related to the political economy and gender are shaped by Western humanitarianism, humanitarian design, and racial capitalism.

Dialogue 3 – Digitally valuating: Art, scarcity and NFTs
Elena Raviola and Valeria Ferrari will discuss how sociotechnical imaginaries value and aesthetics intersect in new digital infrastructures, like NFTs. Ann Ighe will respond to the dialogues and moderate a final discussion, closing the seminar.

To register: email


Costas Lapavitsas is a Professor of Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is a member of Research on Money and Finance (RMF), which has had considerable impact on the European debate and policy making. His longer-term research interests, however, have been on the financialisation of capitalism, its characteristic trends, variable forms and manifold implications for contemporary society. His previous publications include Social Foundations of Markets, Money and Credit and Political Economy of Money and Finance.

Dr. Jordanna Matlon is Associate Professor of Global Urban Studies at the School of International Service, American University, and a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse. Her multiple award-winning book, A Man among Other Men: The Crisis of Black Masculinity in Racial Capitalism (Cornell University Press) investigates the relationship between masculinity, work, and globalization in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Her new book, Blackness as Being: Black Survival in the Age of Climate Catastrophe (under contract, Polity Press), bridges literatures on surplus populations, climate change, and racial capitalism to theorize the possibilities and precariousness of species-survival in the Anthropocene. It offers Blackness as an analytic to think with the paradox of precarious possibility – of past and present modalities of survival and of futures alternatively devastating or liberatory.

Erling Björgvinsson is Professor of Design at HDK-Valand, Gothenburg University. His research focuses the dynamics of power and change as they are imagined and carried out in art and design through historical and material practices that enable, direct, and restrict ways of being and imagining. Currently he is heading a six-year long practice-based research project titled Imaginaries of Value: Site and Mobility in Globalised Art and Design Practices Through Their Creative and Administrative Uses of Paper. Recently he worked on the research project PLACED: Accommodating refugees and asylum seekers and the spatial production of hospitality and otherness where he focused on imaginaries of possessive whiteness, Othering, and racial banishment in relation to asylum seekers and minoritized citizens in Denmark.

Dave Beech is a Reader, an artist and the author of a series of academic books that have transformed the field of the political economy of art. As an artist he has exhibited at the Venice biennial, the Liverpool biennial, the Guangzhou biennial, the Istanbul biennial and the Liverpool biennial. He has also organised many artist-led events and institutions including curating major exhibitions in New York, London and Manchester.

Elena Raviola is Torsten and Wanja Söderberg Professor in Design Management at HDK-Valand, and director of Business and Design Lab (HDK-V and the School of Business, Economics and Law). She has a long experience with ethnographic studies in creative industries in different countries and has written extensively about negotiations of value in organizations and institutions. Her wide network in the organization and management scholarly community will allow the research environment to make artistic research relevant for other scholarly communities, interested in imaginaries of value.

Valeria Ferrari is affiliated researcher at the Institute of Network Cultures and a member of the collective Slutty Urbanism. With the latter, she explores provocative digital rituals to contrast the hegemonic imaginary of platformisation through systemic errors and glitches. She is founder and former editor of the Glossary of Decentralised Technosocial Systems hosted by the Internet Policy Review. During her PhD at the University of Amsterdam, within the Blockchain and Society Policy and Research Lab, she investigated policymaking discourses around digital platforms and decentralized technologies, focusing on payment and value systems.

Ann Ighe is a senior lecturer in economic history at University of Gothenburg, a writer, critic and the editor of cultural journal Ord&Bild.

Note: Due to unforeseen circumstances Kenny Schachter and Marina Vishmidt will have to postpone their participation to a later occasion.”

Read more more information about the research project

Read more about the background to the seminar in the PDF below.