In 2010 Parasite Artek formulated a “Manifesto of Parasitism” presenting the idea of his activities as a parasite-artist. According to these ideas covered in “Manifesto”, Parasite Arek lived, worked, and created parasitizing for four years in several cities, cultural institutions and all places of culture. With time, his actions turned into a critique of the status of the artist in society and he began to create the so-called host projects.

In this spirit, in 2012, he created a series of activities “Willing to help” implemented in Polish villages and towns. In 2013, he designed and completed the construction of a home in Elblag – a house, which is the dream of every young person who has no money for land, materials, and builders. Then he worked in various projects with social groups referred to as “social parasites”: Roma, the long-term unemployed or experiencing social exclusion; a painting workshop “Not to be Rejected”, where homeless people can work. At the basis of this and other activities is the belief in the therapeutic role of art and the belief that people can improve their situation through it.

The Socio-Parasitology Manifesto” from 2018 by Sabrina Muntaz Hasan looks at all points of contact as interruptions that are exercised by the parasite. Although most of Hasan´s work centers around immigration topics, her observations can be applied to other social issues. According to Mumtaz Hasan, all humans are parasitic. The focus is on interruption and not disruption, looking at the socio-parasitic relationship in a progressive way.

You need to interrupt in order to have agency

You need to interrupt to become positive

You need to interrupt so you are parasitic

­                        The Socio-Parasitology Manifest by Sabrina Mumtaz Hasan

Essentially, Mumtaz Hasan’s theory focuses on a positive “parasite-host” relationship. In biological species relationships, parasites have a host; in this case the “parasite” is the artist, and the “host” is the “benefactor”. The manifesto looks at how the point of interruption — where the parasite and the host engage or “interrupt” each other — is actually beneficial for the new hosting environment.

In 2020, the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in ​​Aalborg, Denmark, lent the artist Jens Haaning 534,000 kroner (~$84,000) to reproduce two of his older artworks. But what did he do instead? He kept the money to himself and renamed the series Take the Money and Run. According to a written agreement between the two sides, Haaning was expected to utilize the banknotes from the payment to recreate two pieces he made in 2007 and 2010. The original artworks represented the respective average annual incomes of Austrians and Danes using cash bills. But for his latest, Haaning delivered two empty frames, with no banknotes to be seen.

This story of a cunning artist and an unsuspecting museum will make you rethink what conceptual art can get you. Haaning inhabited the museum as a foreign agent, adopting tactics that offered practical and conceptual strategies of artistic production through acts of “parasitical inhabitation.” He took the opportunity to portrait the artist as an irritant, an organism that lives in or on another organism, extracting what it needs from its host without giving anything positive in exchange.

Since Marcel Duchamp in 1917 presented Fountain, a mass fabricated urinal that became art by a so called “transubstantiation process” (it just became art because he said so and was sold in 1999 for $1,762,500 ), a long train of parasitan artists have followed suit. That said, the exhibition Work it Out includes work that criticizes the impact of the parasite.

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