Curator Howie Chen and artist/attorney Jason Kakoyiannis have launched a new series of programs called "Juicing the Equilibrium: Critique, Value, Markets, Prices," which aims to jolt the market-critical capacities of the art world with shots of academic, para-art world realities. The two sum up the project's goals in a question: "How can the robust analytical tools and models of the social sciences—whether they be data driven, behavioral, network, or quantitative-be utilized to mend the deteriorating ability of critical practice to narrate its own complex reality?"

"Juicing the Equilibrium" kicks off at Independent—itself a new articulation of an established market form, the art fair—with a talk called "The Return of the 90s. The Art Market in Times of Crisis," by Dutch economic sociologist Olav Velthuis.


KEVIN MCGARRY: Just what equilibrium is being juiced—the balance achieved by straddling analogous disciplines of thought?

CHEN/KAKOYIANNIS: I think the equilibrium came from the idea of the place where the needle settles after a debate is concluded, or exhausted. "Juicing" proposes a new double action that could occur in critical art discourse—augmenting it and deflating it in the right places. It introduces a change agent to the conversation, a potentially ball shrinking and breast inducing one. .

MCGARRY: Was it more an observation about the art world's present condition or an interest in research like Velthuis' that generated the idea for this series?

CHEN/KAKOYIANNIS: It definitely started with the latter. These fields represent an effort to describe our current condition with very different analytic tools. We came across Velthuis' work several years ago and were struck by the incisiveness of the language, and the ease with which he cut to the chase regarding certain forces and behaviors that art commentators had a difficult time squaring in language, even if they were intuitively on the same page. We thought at the time that the outsider status of Velthuis' work as a sociologist was sure to set off a storm of methodological imitators—it was real talk, and aloof in an attractive way. But that never materialized, and the reception of his work has been interesting to follow as it finds its way into footnotes. Among others we will engage in this series, he's an under-acknowledged muse of the global jetset academics.

MCGARRY: As the logo for this series, you've used a blacked out eye. Is it fully dilated?

CHEN/KAKOYIANNIS: It's called Mis nuevos scleras black, and it's from a Mexican Goth catalogue. They're blackout lenses; when you wear them you are completely unable to see a thing. You might remember them as the eyes of the vampiric raiders in 30 Days of Night. The lenses stand for a sort of undialectical or daemonic (in the Angus Fletcher Allegory sense of the term) fixation of purpose—singular, sent from beyond hell, and theatrical.

MCGARRY: I was thinking about the eye image physiologically, about what would cause that kind of hyperbolic dilation—exposure to blinding light or extreme desire maybe.

CHEN/KAKOYIANNIS: I like this idea of extreme desire: the physiological impossibility and the fantasy of such a product, and the psychologies that result.

MCGARRY: Is it an eye looking at the problem or the solution?

CHEN/KAKOYIANNIS:  The eye is not looking, it is actually entombed—in sepulchral night or the condition of the contemporary artist, as you like.


THE RETURN OF THE 90S, THE ART MARKET IN TIMES OF CRISIS, LAUNCHES MARCH 5, AT 5 PM. INDEPENDENT IS LOCATED AT 548 WEST 22 STREET, NEW YORK.