cassie thornton

intro’d to cassie via this museum of care fb share (for m of care – mar 12):

This Friday, we’re excited to have artist and activist Cassie Thornton talk to us about Hologram, “a feminist social health-care project that aims to provide accountability, attention and solidarity as a source of long term care.” You can read more about Hologram on her website (5 min read), or this 40-minute talk she gave last May as the world entered lockdown.

neither were linked so i googled and found [] i’m guessing the 40 min hologram video (see notes below).. am taking in one from 2015 first (see notes below)

Cassie will talk about Hologram, but we’d also like to keep the assembly interactive. So, please feel free to go through the article and video, and ask her any questions about Hologram, how it works, and how you could apply it in your own life & networks. In fact, some of us are thinking of starting our own Holograms as a Museum of Care room, so stay tuned for more on this topic.

As usual, here are the details of the assembly: 8PM GMT (UK Time), Friday, March 12


1 hr video from 2015 – Evergreen Art Lecture Series – Cassie Thornton – []

Cassie Thornton is a social practice artist and is collaborating with Evergreen students as part of the exhibit, Sensations that Announce the Future in the Evergreen Gallery. She is known as the Feminist Economics Department (The FED).

notes/quotes from video:

5 min – i’ve been working w debt as a material for a lot of years now.. and as liam said i love to point out the elephant in the room and in ed.. debt has been the elephant for quite a few years.. but only popped it’s head out in last few.. like 2012.. at time of occupy and when that book debt came out by david graeber

debt (book)david graeberstrike debt – et al

6 min – i often don’t use my name.. i often go as the fed (fem econ dept).. and i love saying things like the fed loves you and the fed cares.. and i’m interested in inserting feeling and affect where there is none.. where things feel flat

7 min – what sensation makes me aware of the future? it’s hard for me to imagine the future.. so much anxiety about the moment.. i’m wondering if it comes from diff source than me.. like maybe it’s important to listen to the anxiety.. so in my work.. really trying to slow down time.. till it’s beyond boring.. painful to think about anymore..

8 min – when i start to feel like.. too much info.. i p;ut together all the things that make me want to freak out.. and use them in diff ways.. ie: plays, graphic design.. helps me visualize things i feel like i’m’ avoiding or not really understanding..

9 min – because i think there’s a really big mistake.. like i’ve fallen into the hole and the hole is a really big mistake and i didn’t make the hole.. but i think the mistake is believing in money.. i spend an awful lot of time worrying about money.. worrying about running out of money.. worrying there’s not going to be enough money in future.. and it’s just so boring


on needing to let go of money (any form of measuring/accounting).. any form of m\a\p.. any form of democratic admin..

10 min – talking about her college debt.. in the end.. i should have just had 55 000 debt.. the rest is interest.. where does it go? us spends 8% of budget on ed.. huge profit off student loans.. strike debt.. i have a feeling a lot will change

strike debt

12 min – i just feel like it’s such a waste of time/energy.. (debt – uni debt in particular)

12 min – it was as if in fin aid dept .. i was in a fog.. said yes to many things i didn’t agree to.. i used to think the fog was debt.. but am thinking debt creates anxiety and the fog is anxiety

13 min – i’ve been trying to deal w fog in a lot of ways.. ie: move it out of way.. cut thru it.. one way i hit it on the head.. i realized i didn’t have the power/guts to cut thru it.. to rupture any institution myself.. so i hired an actress to play a student .. $250 to have a breakdown – character name.. fedora archive.. every fri told her about school.. then she’d go have a breakdown somewhere in school.. she was an interesting/mythical presence.. she also became my best friend.. we completed each other..

16 min – on her show.. she’d scare people – ‘is nothing i do enough for you’.. she had scheduled/scripted breakdowns.. she won awards.. i left it behind.. was just too much

18 min – later had residency.. my studio (looked like bif hq).. where i worked.. said only paid for materials.. so i said.. only materials i have are breakdowns and they cost 250.. so .. am proud i got u of san diego to pay that.. for a critique of their school.. because that’s what it was.. went to econ classes et al.. there was lots to talk about

20 min – laura couldn’t do it.. so i didn’t think i could hire anybody.. it was hard on laura.. i realized i needed to do it.. i was afraid to.. so i should do it.. i was this student who i hated in a way.. in a way she’s me and totally not me at same time.. i made here a social climbing w high debt.. i paid laura 750 to train me.. i felt it was this good reciprocity

reciprocity ness.. also a waste of time/energy

22 min – so cool to get to have a breakdown when so angry about things

not much documentation.. because not for uni but for students..

24 min – i felt like i kind of got to break thru some of that fog

25 min – an older project: physical audit.. after kicked out of fin aid office.. was in drawing class.. and didn’t want to touch it.. felt like a dirty market.. then did on project last day.. took class to fin aid office and had them to improve w dirt there.. room seemed to clean/santized.. white.. but so dirty.. we made this drawing.. and all students were like.. yeah.. corruption.. we got dirt on them..

26 min – then in ny.. i hired 20 dancers to go to 20 banks and touch everything.. ie: at chase banks.. where they’re cleaning always.. we tried to make small to large mistakes.. little nervous experiments where we could barely break the rules.. then got to where could do larger actions

29 min – system was wash hands out side bank.. 2-7 people.. and ask if we could open a collective savings acct.. and meanwhile.. we’re touching/touching/touching.. we ended up them all.. w 5-11 people.. took us so long to get thru our own rules of what was possible.. our rules were so much tougher than bank’s rules.. and finally.. we had enough guts to step over our bounds.. we gave bank acct # out to tons of people.. and asked them to come make small deposits.. so.. there were lines out the door.. people coming in touching everything.. dumping the pens over.. chaos.. then security came and got us and pulled us out.. and i felt like it was such an amazing moment when we got strong enough to need to be disciplined.. so proud

32 min – shows part of video she made out of doing the above project – touching everything.. every nook and cranny.. looking for dirt.. washing hands.. then made pics of dirt they found and displayed

37 min – in talking about debt .. i like to talk about it as something natural.. not always corporate.. not always predatory.. this kind of leads into the next project.. ie: if we didn’t have anything owed to anyone else we would have nothing to do

oh my.. wtf? we just have no idea what legit free people are like.. wow..

we think of debt in this really flat way.. ie: what i owe to bank/student-loan.. or.. i don’t have debt.. you do.. but i don’t.. but i don’t think that’s true.. i don’t think any people don’t have a sense of owing/obligation to someone

wow.. that is the cancer (you refer to at 40 min)

obligation ness as huge red flag we’re doing it/life wrong

38 min – debt is not necessarily mean that it’s scary.. it’s just a process/relationship.. if you have me over for dinner.. i want to do something for you

dangerous.. tit for tat ness.. reciprocity ness.. any form of m\a\p

and i definitely want that relationship.. that feeling of striving to please you..

oh my.. so cancerized/intoxicated/trumped..

to meet you somewhere.. to meet you where you are

that’s completely diff from 1/st half of her run on sentence..

brown belonging lawthe opposite of belonging.. is fitting in.. true belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.. it requires you to be who you are.. and that’s vulnerable.. –Brené Brown .. et al

and as david graeber said.. it was always there.. like credit/debt.. they were not preceded by barter

huge diff between always being there.. and not being preceded by

there was never a completely clean exchange.. there was always a layover.. you always had something i didn’t have and i had something you didn’t have.. and maybe those things linked up.. and money was actually supposed to make it easier to exchange after credit had become messy

marsh exchange law

39 min – so i’ve been really for years thinking that debt means more than we think it does.. and i keep thinking about this part of this octavia butler book where a very minor story line.. aliens in future try to save earth.. 1/2 humans threatened 1/2 subsumed..

40 min – what the aliens realize.. which most humans rarely do.. is that the most potent healing thing that the human body produces is cancer.. and that cancer is the thing that can heal humans

so these aliens harvest cancer and use it to heal other humans.. but the thing they heal in the humans is the humans’ desire for hierarchy..

the reason i bring it up.. is that these things that are the most toxic/scariest.. things you want to avoid the most.. are probably the richest.. and that’s why i love the elephant in the room.. because it’s probably a pretty powerful elephant.. and so that’s why the debt is so interesting and unknown to me.. because i think i’m looking at it in this way.. like i wish i was an alien.. because then i could see what things really were

41 min – so i’ve been doing these debt visualizations for a few years – a service i offer.. ie: i have people close their eyes and imagine debt as physical object.. can be helpful.. 50% bs but taking risk to use a diff part of your mind to understand something that seems incomprehensible

42 min – i was obsessed w fact that we made so much debt.. i wanted to make an infographic of art vs debt.. friend suggested huge metal marble..

43 min – interviewed all these people about their debt.. ie: had 225 000 debt.. she imagined big metal plank that sloped up.. and blocked life/light for her.. felt precarious like it could fall on her..

45 min – more ie’s: banyan tree.. which is hollow.. branches suffocate tree.. but make it look strong..

48 min – shows a therapy couch.. for giving debt visualizations.. then she has audience go thru process

i stopped listening here


notes/quotes from 40 min hologram video – Cassie Thornton: The Hologram. Collective Health as a “Beautiful Art Work” – []:

12 min – project began in 2016 at berkley – asking.. what would it mean to start a coop.. and intentional community in exile.. hologram came thru this group of people.. dying in the eyes of the state.. and how to do better health care.. hologram as a way to say that all of our crises are connected.. from debt to puerto rico to meds et al

14 min – social solidarity clinic of thessaloniki – the integretive care model.. group for diff med

heal (doc) et al

on upending hierarchies w/in care

begs a means to undo our hierarchical listening

16 min – ie of solidarity clinic (thessaloniki).. creating a hologram for each person by having paitent meet w 3 people.. therapist, social worker, and gen practitioner.. to get all senses of the person’s health.. stopped calling them patients and calling them incomers.. meeting: 90 min light interrogation.. then phys exam.. then 1 yr plan

18 min – that seemed so revolutionary but also so familiar.. on hologram.. see people not flat.. can begin to understand what a person needed

gabor on addiction/trauma/needs

19 min – 2016 was bad.. but wasn’t a crisis.. so wondering how this could apply.. to 2020.. most places in crisis.. so hologram good for unstable conditions and long term

21 min – how to plan situations where we have support we need..

is a diff med possible.. w/o experts, space, money, stability.. can we do this when all sick.. when taught to trust experts and not ourselves..

have to be able to.. we are all sick

22 min – the hologram about rebuilding trust.. challenges a lot of our habits and asks us to be disobedient w time/energy

ie: cure ios city..

imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch in 8b souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to connect/coord us.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for

the energy of 8b alive people

24 min – 3 people.. mental; social; and physical.. way divisions work.. ie: financial questions challenges us to think about the body.. allows us to keep convo balanced..

healing (roots of)

25 min – the point of the hologram has really become about making decisions.. no one should make big decisions alone.. a diff kind of med record

oi.. decision making is unmooring us.. let’s go with curiosity over decision making

a diff kind of med record: self-talk as data – again.. imagine if we used that data to connect us.. to get at the roots of healing.. gabor on addiction/trauma/needs et al

3 people helping you build a living med record.. so that 3 people can help you decide if you need a certain surgery et al..

patient is the teacher.. so responsible for articulating what’s going on with them.. which we don’t do in society..

again.. begs we org around self-talk as data.. then focus would be less on ways to get healthy.. less on which surgery.. med/care procedure et al to do.. but rather.. about how to have the conditions for 8bn be to get a go everyday

imagine if we weren’t spending our days.. even on talking about care.. imagine if we were legit free to live/be our fittingness.. so that we’d be ongoingly healthy as individual/globe

29 min – hologram works like a virus.. spreading.. made to outlast/destroy capitalism.. this is training for post capitalist future.. based on thesis that we are coop species and just have to remember how to do that

augmenting interconnectedness

32 min – healing is difficult

takes a lot of work ness – oi

we can collectively solve our problems.. w/o permission..

imagine if life isn’t really about solving problems.. imagine if we could get a place that we weren’t creating them in the first place.. (i can hear people saying.. but we need something now) imagine if it were much easier/simpler.. than all of this.. and we could do it now

32 min – some things i just want to say..

1\ this is not therapy.. not a replacement for therapy.. formal med care.. goes below/beyond.. a sense of roots/belonging.. it’s something more a new type of relationship

2\ post capitalist reciprocation looks diff.. this is a muscle we need to build.. we’ve been trained to give something in exchange for something else.. and this is asking us to have more patience and think about recip in a much vaster way.. recip can be about circulation and doesn’t have to be hyper individualistic

actually.. we need to just let go of thinking about reciprocity at all.. huge red flag we’re doing it/life wrong

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people

3\ needing support doesn’t make you weak.. esp those of us who have been mostly healthy..

34 min – 3 ways of moving ahead..

1\ min viable hologram (access pts on hologram website).. social research and outreach.. i pay people living wage for 2 hrs.. to model it .. good for growing practice and getting feedback

2\ 4 wk courses.. thinking about skills we need to practice the hologram: time, trust, *instead of problem solving.. wishes, and then patterns

that’s imagine if we ness.. for 8b people.. (has to be all of us or the dance won’t dance.. and we’ll just keep spinning our wheels on tragedy of the non common)

3\ coming soon – monthly meet up on line – community of practice.. to meet people working w the hologram.. problem solve.. so it feels more like a movement than individual therapy.. not alone

yeah.. part\ial ness is killing us.. (even this is partial) .. and this is why everything we seem to think we need to do.. we preface with takes a lot of work..

for (blank)’s sake