[-empyre-] intro feral trade

kate rich kate at irational.org
Sun Jun 17 21:10:58 AEST 2018

hi Shu Lea

good question re. the legal - i get asked that one a lot. i did once get 
raided by trading standards, the UK authority who have more powers than 
the police, they went over my business operations with a steel comb. they 
understood it was art and they didn't care about that, they were 
particulary interested in the border areas between personal and commercial 
goods that my grocery business is playing in. after a few weeks to think 
about it they got back to me to report that they couldn't find any 
regulations against feral trade activities: that it's a 'grey area'. so 
that was a really successful research collaboration with state agents 
which supplied in effect a trading standards-authored endorsement to carry 

so as you mention, all the transactions in the network are published on 
the website, which means i keep all national border crossings of sacks of 
coffee beans and slices of cheese visibly within legal limits. so to 
reflect the question back - why does this look illegal? why should a 
hand-held, sociable, network-delivered trade in actually very innocuous 
packaged groceries like olive oil and salt regularly trigger associations 
with, specifically, organised crime? i'm super-interested in vernacular 
approaches to infrastructure, and how we might in cases be over-compliant 
or over-determining in an expectation that everyday activities such as 
trade across distance would be legally out of our hands.

for the experiments in business, i'm excited to be kicking off that 
research at the new centre for plausible economies in london in a week 
from now, http://companydrinks.info/event/feral-business-research-network. 
this is re-thinking notions of business with artists and outside a 
capitalist frame. i'm particularly interested in non-model businesses - 
experiments in business which do not scale or replicate but can travel, 
cross-breed and transmit - & also in martin parker's idea of insurgent 
entrepreneurship as a set of potentially transformative practices in 
reorienting economy, for communities as well as individuals. in the long 
run the project will be about collecting existing examples of 'outlier' 
business practices by artists, as well as designing new experimental 
business shapes that could fit a radically re-imagined economy. artists 
are extremely good at playing with form in the area of content, i suggest 
it is time we get our acts together with an equal attention to the 
containers in which the art work takes place. that includes getting 
eqaully creative with the often overlooked art materials of 
administration, regulation, transactions, organisational form, etc. 
which is where the feral MBA will be heading.


On Sun, 17 Jun 2018, Shu Lea Cheang wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear Kate
> thanks for joining us.
> I have known your dedication to feral trade for some time, checking on the 
> updated website, the goods travel like an underground rhizome network, do you 
> ever have any encounters about the legality of the operation in its servive 
> to the producers and the consumers? Are we all happy?
> would also be great to hear more about the wild experiments in 'business on 
> other terms'... how do we run a network with a 'business' model? I have 
> wanted Mycelium Network Society to run like a KFC franchise model. (haha!! 
> interpretation of the same recipe?)
> over
> sl

More information about the empyre mailing list