The aim of MoneyLab is to research, map and probe (alternative) strategies of redistribution and intervention in digital economy. It starts with the conviction that after the great Bank Robbery of 2008, we can no longer only criticize financial capitalism but need to map and probe alternatives.

MoneyLab #3 Failing Better
A two day symposium of talks, workshops, performances and parties that conquer the assumption that anything is too big to fail.

1-2 December 2016
Conference : Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam
Cabaret : Mezrab, Amsterdam
Afterparty : Roest Bar, Amsterdam

Buy tickets here.


Thursday 1 December

08:45 – 09:15 – Doors Open

09:15 – 9:30 – Introduction by Geert Lovink

09:30 – 11:00 – Session: Global Finance: Failing Better? featuring Virginia Alvarez, Alex Foti, Renzo Martens & Cassie Thornton

11:00 – 12:45 – Session: When Art Mirrors Marx featuring Tori Abernathy, Steyn Bergs, Max Haiven, Jeroen Van LoonDan Mihaltianu & Anne Breure

12:45 – 13:45 – Lunch

13:30 – 15:00 – Workshops:

How Can Accountants Save the World?

Politics of the Cyphersphere

Prevailing over Money

15:15 – 15:45 – Break

15:45 – 17:15 – Session: Save The Last Dance featuring Bindu de Knock, Henry Warwick & Koos Zwaan

18:00 – ONWARDS – Fiscal Drag Live at Mezrab Featuring the University of the Phoenix Eulogy for Excellence DinnerFine Art Financ Lab

Friday 2 December

09:15 – 09:45 – Doors Open

09:45 – 11:15 – Session: Cooperatives and the Commons featuring Trebor Scholz, Michel Vogler Arthur Röing Baer

11:15 – 12:45 – Session: Big Pocket is Watching You!  featuring Austin HouldsworthNathalie MaréchalEmily Rosamond & Brett Scott

12:45 – 13:45 – Lunch

13:45 – 15:15 – Workshops:

Governance in the Age of Blockchains and Digital Currencies

Flexonomix District Currency Game

Role Play Your Way to Budgetary Blockchain Bliss

15:15 – 15:45 – Break

15:45 – 17:00 – Session: Universal Basic Income: For One and for All? featuring Tori Abernathy, Baruch Gottlieb, Johannes Ponader & Patrice Riemens 

21:00 – ONWARDS – Failing Better Afterparty at Roest

Session and Workshop Descriptions

Session: Global Finance: Failing Better?

Beyond the culture of celebs, what comes after Ewald Engelen, Thomas Piketty, Yanis Varoufakis and David Graeber? How can we build bridges between economists and their critique of global finance, neo-liberal policies, financialization, shrinking middle classes and the ever-growing gap between rich and poor? Can we address the gap between the best selling financial book of the year and grass-roots social resistance?

‘Global Finance: Failing Better?’ addresses the need for a multitude of critical strategies that go beyond analysis and step up the game into action. As scores of citizens amass in public squares as part of Nuit Debout or campaign for political reform with people’s parties such as Podemos or the Five Star Movement, will the original underlying critique of global finance continue to inspire and mobilize direct political action? If financial reporting led to the rise of direct democratic action can writers critique of the global economy offer more to the building of viable alternatives? Can popular economic literature engage directly with the current social movements to become, more than just a conversation piece, but a potential manual to reroute the austerity economy.

Session: When Art Mirrors Marx

Artists are vital to deconstructing how finance and economics have affected our collective imagination, and to reimagining alternatives. Artists have been monitoring, tracking and intervening in finance to provide new insights and potential escape routes. Moneylab#3 invites artists from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to present research, experiments and interventions in finance.

‘When Art Mirrors Marx’ presents a selection of artists that invert and disassemble the intrinsic value of art to re-imagine the scope of artistic production and distribution. This is both through physical and bodily actions such as consuming and digesting pages of ‘Das Kapital’ to auctioning of the bodily DNA data belonging to the artist. But also artist initiatives that short circuit and circumvent endemic characteristics of the 21st-century economy, from developing working contracts and common funds to secure assets. What happens when art imitates finance? Can artists’ investigations into finance create viable alternatives for the masses? How can practical working models for artists become scaled for the masses?

Workshop: How can Accountants Save the World? 

Accountants have an immense possibility to save the world, if they begin to change their language from one of ac’count’ing to one of accountability. This workshop aims to explore the social constructivist nature of accounting and the pervasive role its language plays in our everyday lives. We will begin to interactively reimagine our interaction with money, exploring alternative ways for individuals to participate in the economy. Permaculture ethics and design principles will guide this exploration to practical solutions that can act as forces for change within local economies. The third permaculture ethic – fair share – facilitates the satisfaction of a fundamental human need – that of security. We will embark on a journey of self-discovery by drawing on prior experience of money, accounting, economics, banking and finance in order to make explicit working ideas which can facilitate a shift from a false sense of security based on money to a more resilient, genuine form of security that is based on social relations and interactions.

Workshop: Politics of the Cyphersphere 

The Politics of the Cyphersphere workshop will trace the roots of crypto-movements in technological activism and artistic interventions to outline motivations and positions from a historical as well as technological perspective. The first cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) and more importantly the ‘blockchain’ are unarguably key inventions of the 21st century and this workshop will discuss possible pitfalls and current discourses around future applications of the blockchain from a socio-political dimension.

The less popular and more vernacular blockchain experiments will be discussed with a call for an open and interdisciplinary discourse in the cryptosphere in order to foster an informed and critical artistic financial literacy that can help develop the society of tomorrow. Workshop participants will be asked to contribute to a working manifesto that cuts through the blockchain hype and commits to a working creative strategy that harnesses the potential for distributed ledger technologies. This collaborative workshop contributes towards the Cryptolab Festival in May 2017 that will showcase a diverse range of interdisciplinary projects that explore the art, cryptography and technology.

Workshop: Prevailing Money 

Money takes the blame for economic inequality. But blaming money as a device is politically ineffectual. Money, is merely a social technology which, like every technology, benefits those with power disproportionally.  In this workshop we will look at the social function of money and how it would be managed in a solidarity economy.  Consequently we will examine what policies will be effective to move the current system towards a more equilibrated and sustainable social form.

Session: Save the Last Dance?

The music industry is still in repair after the initial disruption of digital downloads and streaming sites in the mid 1990s. Traditional rights management laws continue to restrict the creation, distribution and profitability of music. In addition to this, public performances are now monetized with the use of audio recognition technology in music venues, turning bars, clubs and festivals into sites of data-based economic revenue for major publishers and labels.

How does this play in the ever-growing festival and club scene? What are the goals for a global industry that now relies on counting streamed playbacks and selling hand-made band t-shirts? Can the outcry for alternatives be met with distribution platforms that disrupt the dominant players and reach larger audiences? And how is the club scene itself being affected by the ongoing real-estate boom in the metropolitan areas, usually seen as the birthplace of new music currents?

Session: Cooperatives and the Commons

There is fresh interest in initiating and maintaining a digital commons to provide vital restbite against the wave on demand mobile apps and share economy services. This can be witnessed in tech start-ups and entrepreneurs shifting towards a co-operative business model, in what has been named as platform co-operavatism. The introduction of unions and crowd-owned companies, not only attempt to secure some stability for the precarious worker in the digital economy but also attempt to move towards a more circular economy over the dominant extractive monopolies such as Uber and Air’n’b.

The platform co-op movement opens up the possibility of collective ownership to re-instate shared common resources within circular economies. The ideas are already beginning to take hold in cities that have already been damaged by the affects of share economy businesses such as Berlin, which has a strict limit on Airbnb rentals, and Rio de Janeiro, which banned Uber all together last year. In areas such as these, where the repercussions of unregulated digital platforms have already impacted social welfare, the platform co-op may offer a promising sanctuary from the destructive expansion of on-demand capitalism.

Session: Big Pocket is Watching You!

The explosion of new forms of alternative currencies and the persistent refusal to do away with physical cash indicates growing public concern over the way in which electronic money enables large scale data surveillance. In a world without cash, every payment becomes traceable, allowing for unprecedented amounts of citizen spending data to be collected. As more and more shops and retailers in large cities reject cash in favor of electronic money, important issues regarding privacy, data and surveillance become central to the future of money. These concerns echo wider debates around data and surveillance – the Apple vs. FBI backdoor case has highlighted the mounting tensions between commercial and governmental data surveillance. The implementation of crypto currencies by some of the worlds leading banks is a worrying advancement that refits the anonymity of bitcoin into the largest consumer database.

What alternatives to electronic money can prevent citizen surveillance and inspire radical visions of the future of money? What does the commercial adoption of bitcoin indicate for citizen privacy? How will consumer data be managed in the future of electronic cash?

Workshop: Governance in the age of Blockchain and Digital Currencies


The simultaneous rise of digital currencies and the widespread failure of our political and financial systems is hardly a coincidence. Seven years of innovation and millions of dollars of investment have led to a proliferation of blockchain solutions designed to reduce dependence on authorities like governments and banks. What might sound like science fiction is now happening: self-executing, decentralized networks in which ‘trust’, ‘governance’ and ‘consensus’ are coded into protocols. To what extent have they succeeded? Where have they failed and what challenges do they face? What alternatives for governance do these new technologies offer? How will they affect our world? Will we soon see smart contracts, Swarms and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations replace traditional, centralized bureaucratic powers? How can we best use them to enable new governance systems while balancing public and private interests with fundamental individual rights? This session explores the subject from different perspectives: from the small core of developers who make crucial decisions on system architecture, from the users and from other stakeholders like, for example, miners who play a key role in the power structure.


Workshop: Flexonomix District Currency Game

The District Currency is a newly designed commons-based community currency developed by FleXibles in Zurich and now being implemented by NetHood and the netCommons project. The district currency is used as a role model to demonstrate the power of democracy and the commons through an interest-free monetary system.

The Flexonomix® District-Currency-Game introduces a district currency for housing cooperatives. The Flexinomix workshop will experiment with how a district currency can be implemented in housing co-operatives and lead to a commons based community currency. By inhabiting the role of a co-op member, participants will be asked to improve living conditions for the district using the skills and requirements of the community. At the end of each round, new decisions will adjust the process. Commoning through a currency incorporates the abilities, needs, freedoms and obligations of the individuals, as well as the effect of the collective community. The question of how to realize such a currency will be challenged through this workshop and different opportunities or threads might be explored further.

Workshop: Role Play Your Way to Budgetary Blockchain Bliss

It has been said that in terms of its ecology of tools and infrastructures, the Blockchain is at the same stage of development as the World Wide Web in the late 1980s. Since 2013 blockchains have become a focus for investment by world banks, fintechs and corporations who predict a fourth industrial revolution of super-automation and hyperconnectivity that will increase global inequity. In this version of the future, code replaces legislation. Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) route around systems of regulation and taxation via immutable smart contracts. Those that grew up with the WWW know that decentralised infrastructure does not equate to decentralised power. Therefore it is crucial that people from diverse disciplines and backgrounds are involved when working out how blockchain technologies can be shaped in the interests of more diverse needs and interests.

Role play the formation of a DAO for solidarity and a commons for the arts in the age of networks. Experience and debate the hopes and tensions; work through the asymmetries, dramas, inequities and politics of coalitions across difference…. starting with the budget! This activity is a precursor to a series of smart contract role play and design activities for people of all backgrounds and disciplines – lawyers, philosophers, economists, financiers, artists, designers, developers – where participants will write social relations into code as a basis for debate.

Session: Universal Basic Income: For one and for All?

Universal Basic Income has re-entered the debate in a response to increasing austerity measures and welfare cuts offering a possible exit strategy for citizens struggling in the free market. Although basic income is an attractive prospect for anyone facing redundancy from increasing automated workforce some argue that distributing ‘free money’ is a shortsighted solution to extreme poverty and will only benefit the creative class. Although only 23% of the Swiss population voted in favor for a national basic income an overwhelming 80% believed that there would be further referendums on basic income in the future. If the debate is only beginning than there should be more discussion about how Basic Income will unfold. Should the control of distributing free cash be given to the state or can we start crowdfunding schemes to initiate Basic Income for ourselves? Can the distribution of free money offer progressive models for financial and social inclusion? Or is basic income a way to achieve maximum employment for the creative class?


Moneylab#3: Failing Better is scheduled for 1–2 December 2016, again in Amsterdam. A two-day symposium will be accompanied by a series of workshops from art collectives, designers and activists featuring investigations into artist contracts, experiments in digital publishing, artist revenue platforms, p-2-p co-operatives, and experiments in universal basic income.