Starting 26th January 2017, the Art & Theory Reading Group met once a month for four months, at Wollaton Street Studios, to discuss Jacques Derrida’s Given Time: 1. Counterfeit Money. Examining the implications for artistic practice of its ostensible theme of the gift, expressed in Derrida’s process of deconstruction and his “strict taste for refinement, paradox and aporia,” which he applies to Charles Baudelaire’s short tale Counterfeit Money (1869).
Each of the four meetings was dedicated to reading a single chapter of Given Time. The posts below are sequential summaries of my reading of the text (most recent first), written in advance of each meeting.
Baudelaire’s Counterfeit Money, overview
The story is a first person account, in which the narrator and his friend encounter a beggar, to whom the friend gives a two-franc coin, before confessing, to the narrator, that the coin was counterfeit. Surmising that his aim was to “pick up the certificate of a charitable man” on the cheap, the narrator refuses to forgive his friend. While it is never excusable to be mean, “the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity.”
The project culminated in the Art as Gift Symposium, on Saturday 13th May, in which the artist and critic Peter Suchin (Art Monthly) discussed the question “What is Given in Marcel Duchamp’s Given?”
Transcription of my introduction to Peter Suchin’s presentation.
(Convenor, Art & Theory Reading Group)