Proteus Gowanus » labor An interdisciplinary gallery and reading room Sat, 19 Sep 2015 22:40:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Past Is the Future: Economic Alternatives from Contemporary Maya Wed, 25 Feb 2015 21:12:00 +0000 Sunday, March 15, 6pm
$5 admission

What is wealth? Can there be a definition that moves beyond the superficiality of cash accumulation? Who is embracing a new definition? Using data collected form ethnographic work conducted in Maya villages in the lowland rainforests of Belize, social anthropologist Kristina Baines presents thoughts on the movement between a traditional reciprocal labor system to a cash economy, and back again. Outlining the details of the Maya reciprocal labor system, which uses a day’s work as currency to trade for a day’s work of another community member, Kristina discusses what it means in terms of health, heritage and future to use a cash-less system.  As part of Proteus’ ongoing exploration of COMMERCE, Kristina questions our understandings of poverty and wealth, the linear perception of “development” and how we put alternatives to capital into “communal” or “fringe” boxes. What lessons can these traditional systems teach us about commerce in our communities when we recast ideas about heritage in the present?

Kristina Baines is a social anthropologist on a mission to uncover ecological connections to health and happiness. She works with Maya communities in the Toledo District, Belize and in the US, and has collaboratively developed environmental and cultural heritage educational materials based on local research ( She hopes, through the use of technology, to promote the wide dissemination of anthropological ideas and their applications ( She is currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Faculty for Academic Technology with the City University of New York at Guttman Community College in New York City.

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Labor of Love: True Stories by Real People Wed, 14 Jan 2015 02:36:45 +0000 Thursday, February 12, 7pm
$5 admission
We each have experience with the Labors of Love. So you will relate as some of New York City’s finest storytellers tell stories of how Love with a capital L has been Work with a capital W. They will explore the relationship we have with relationships. They will ask what we are willing to do and why we are willing to do it for love. Are we seeking wholeness through another? Are we simply following a narrative we’ve been told before? Do we have desires that are too nuanced to put into words? The Labor of Love storytellers will ask all these questions through a series of true personal stories. The Storytellers are Caitlin Brodnick, Kate Greathead, Nisse Greenberg, Eli Reiter and Aaron Wolfe.

Kate Greathead is a storyteller and writer who is confused about her relationship to talking about herself. She is a four time Moth Slam Champion whose work has been featured on the Moth radiohour and the New York Times.

Aaron Wolfe is a storyteller and filmmaker who likes international sports and marxism. His short film Record/Play has won all kinds of awards and was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival as well as a Vimeo Staff Pick. He’s also a Moth GrandSlam Champion and he runs a show called First Time Long Time about stories in sports.

Eli Reiter is a writer, journalist, storyteller, and aspiring listener. He is a multiple Moth Slam Champion who produces the show Long Story Long. He tweets a lot @411eli and his writing can be found at
Caitlin Brodnick is a comedian and storyteller who is just trying to finish this book. She is the creator of the docu-series Screw You Cancer and has had her storytelling featured on The Moth Podcast and her writing featured in Glamour. She is also the producer of Shut Up! – an all female storytelling show.
Nisse Greenberg, organizer of this evening, is attempting to be more vulnerable. He is the creator of Bad Feelings, Drawn Out Storytelling, and VHS Presents. The Future of Storytelling said his “commitment to the storytelling craft is infectious” which makes him sound like a virus on the right side of the law!


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When Labor Was Capital: the Slave-Breeding Industry Sun, 11 Jan 2015 23:29:02 +0000 Thursday, January 22, 7:30pm
$5 admission

When Labor Was Capital: The Slave-Breeding Industry looks at how US slavery differed from the other slaveries of the hemisphere in having a domestically supplied slave trade, with Virginia, “the mother of slavery,” as the largest supplier of native-born human beings for market. Ned Sublette, author of The World That Made New Orleans and the co-author (with Constance Sublette) of the forthcoming The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry (Chicago Review Press, October 2015), will talk about how labor was capital in the making of the United States.

Ned Sublette is the author of The Year Before the Flood (Lawrence Hill Books, 2009); The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square (Lawrence Hill Books 2008); and Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo (Chicago Review Press, 2004).

He is a frequent speaker at universities, museums, conferences, and festivals. Known also as a singer-songwriter, in the 1990s he co-founded the record label Qbadisc, which pioneered the marketing of contemporary Cuban music in the United States in the early 90s. He has produced or co-produced many albums and over 150 episodes of the public radio program Afropop Worldwide. He has received several fellowships and awards, including the Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship at the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience in Chestertown, MD.

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Labor: the New Gold Standard with Paul Glover Sun, 04 Jan 2015 16:39:39 +0000 Saturday, January 10, 7-9 pm
Admission: $5

Paul Glover, social activist and social entrepreneur, believes that real money is measured in hours of labor, steady as the clock. In conjunction with the Proteus exhibit, Labor, he will describe the benefits and processes for creating, growing, and managing labor currencies. The Ithaca HOURS program he created in 1991 has traded millions of dollars value, among thousands of residents and 500 businesses. HOURS have sparked an international movement to stimulate grassroots control of money. 

Glover created the alternative currency Ithaca HOURS and recently launched Philadelphia ArtCash which seeks direct conversion of art into money, to expand the creative economy. He also ran for Governor of Pennsylvania last year as a Green Party candidate. These are just a few of his many projects. Join us for a glass of wine, a presentation by Paul and stimulating conversation!

Paul Glover is founder of 18 organizations and campaigns, including Philadelphia ArtCash, Ithaca HOURS local currency, Philadelphia Orchard Project, Health Democracy, Citizen Planners of Los Angeles. He is author of several books and a former professor of urban studies. His GreenPlanners consultancy helps communities prepare a secure and abundant future even while fuel and food costs rise



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TimeDebt Services Fri, 12 Dec 2014 21:22:58 +0000 Sundays, December 21 – February 15, 3 – 6 pm
Free – App’t suggested but not required
The TimeDebt Project-in-Residence provides free services to the public. Come in for one-on-one consultations with The Work Intern to sort through your burdensome issues of education, debt, labor and wage. To ensure adequate time, you may make an appointment by emailing the Work Intern at email hidden; JavaScript is required. Contrary to previous reports, TimeDebt Workshop sessions will be held on January 18.
Services include:
  • Work Evaluations: Confused about the value of your labor? TimeDebt Services will evaluate your past, present, and future work including the uncompensated and unrecognized transactions in your life.
  • Letters to Creditors: Want to write to Sallie Mae and/or Chase Bank but don’t know how? TimeDebt Services will help you write the perfect barter and/or timebank letter to your creditor offering alternatives to paying off your debt.
  • Education Resources: Want to learn for free? TimeDebt Services will map alternative education models and resources in the city to help you learn what you want to learn without breaking the bank.
Eliza Martin consults with the Work Intern (Meredith Degyansky, right)

Eliza Martin consults with the Work Intern (Meredith Degyansky, right)

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Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North Thu, 04 Dec 2014 01:36:51 +0000 Tuesday, December 16, 7pm
As part of the COMMERCE year exploration, we present the feature documentary Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. Filmmaker Katrina Browne discovers that her New England ancestors were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. She and nine cousins retrace the Triangle Trade between Africa, the West Indies and the American colonies and uncover powerful new perspectives on the black/white divide.
A discussion will follow the film with a member of the DeWolf family who appears in the film and has extensive experience discussing these issues.

The NY Times called the film, “A far-reaching personal documentary examination of the slave trade … The implications of the film are devastating.”
— Stephen Holden, The New York Times
For more information about the film:
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