The Ethics of the Gift/ Questions of Subversion

Tue 4 Feb 2003 - Wed 5 Feb 2003 The New School, Orozco Room
66 West 12th Street, 7th Floor
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Within the academic traditions of anthropology, sociology, and philosophy, the term "gift" evokes a variety of gestures and practices: the present and the offering, the homage and the dedication, invitation, and hospitality. These gestures seem to be born from spontaneous and joyous generosity, but in fact can often hide provocation, challenge, and confrontation. To give can be both a means of expressing one's own affection and devotion or a modest but seductive way or a strategy to affirm one's own superiority with an exuberant and excessive gift. Hospitality can be translated as generous welcome or as the imposition with which the other is obliged to submit to our rules. Every gift, in other words, can be generous or perverse, sincere or insidious, discreet or invasive; it can be proposed as a manifestation of the joy of giving, or as a gesture of waste and dissipation that brings with it a desire for self-affirmation and a will to power.

Antonio Somaini, curator of exhibition The Gift (Bronx Museum)

Organized with the support of Independent Curators International.