On the evening of May 20, visitors, students, and faculty members from Seattle University headed over to the Wyckoff Auditorium to attend the Museum of Capitalism presentation. This event on campus was curated by the creators of the Museum of Capitalism, artist duo FICTILIS, Andrea Steves and Timothy Furstnau. Steves and Furstnau also founded of the Museum of Capitalism, in Jack London Square in Oakland, Calif. during the summer of 2017.
The Oakland location of the Museum of Capitalism was the first physical location of the museum, though the Museum of Capitalism team has given lectures and presentations across a series of locations with other groups interested in exploring topics of capitalism. FICTILIS has worked with two other Museum of Capitalism chapters internationally, in Berlin and Brussels to create a Museum of Capitalism Global Summit.
The event at Seattle U provided a closer and richer look into the history of the Museum of Capitalism’s founding, as well as what the museum was like in Oakland last summer. Event participants were able to learn about past historical figures whose ideas influenced the creation of the Museum of Capitalism. FICTILIS explained that the ideas and teachings Chairman Mao and Russian Communist revolutionary, Alexandra Kollontai helped influence the museum’s creation.
In 2015, the Museum of Capitalism created an architecture competition where participants could enter an architecture design to create a blueprint or idea of what a future Museum of Capitalism would look like, with a $500 cash prize. Participants were asked the questions, “What makes a museum real? What would be in a museum of capitalism? Why should capitalism be discussed more?”
During the talk, Steves and Furtsnau discussed more about the organization and set-up of the Museum of Capitalism during its summer run in Oakland.
The Museum of Capitalism event on the Seattle U campus was held in conjunction to a larger event: the Red May Seattle series.
Molly Mac, the galleries curator at Seattle U, explained more about the relationship between Red May and the Hedreen Gallery.
“Last year during Red May, I was a part of the curatorial team at The Alice Gallery in Georgetown, and we hosted Sianne Ngai to give a lecture on ‘The Zany’ which comprises a chapter from Sianne’s book, Ugly Feelings. The Red May organizers asked me to collaborate this year and Museum of Capitalism was a great fit,” Mac said.
Philip Wohlstetter is the co-founder of Red May Seattle and attended the event. “Red May is a combination teach-in and arts fest. Our motto is take a vacation through capitalism,” Wohlstetter said.
Red May Seattle is in its second year of organizing events centered around the critique of capitalism through a communist lens here in Seattle for the entire month of May.
“One of our rules is for a month, pretend that the market is not a solution to the problems that the market creates. We always joke about turning Seattle ‘red’ for a month, to eat red food, to wear red accessories, to live in the red like there’s no tomorrow. We play a lot on the pun of the color red, and we also have our red flags that we carry around,” Wohlstetter said.
Mike Carlson, a volunteer at Red May Seattle, explained the importance of Red May’s impact through organizing events revolving around teaching others more about capitalism within the greater Seattle community.
“It’s easy to become bogged down in the negative aspects of the world around us, so Red May’s goal is to create spaces throughout the month that give us breathing room to develop ideas and strategy for thinking about what kind of world we want to live in,” Carlson said.
Carlson highlighted that Red May’s mission is to change the narrative around capitalism.
“That means both thinking concretely about our current conditions, but also thinking creatively about what kind of society we want to build and what kind of relationships we want to foster with the people around us.”
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