The Alternative School of Economics, a collaborative research project by artists Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck, was established in 2012, born from a residency at The Working Class Movement Library in Salford, UK. The nomadic ASE provides a framework to concentrate attention to the profound impact local, and intrinsically global, economics has upon society, creatively activating a pragmatic and theoretical inquiry with different communities, through an adaptive programme of talks, site visits, writing and workshops. For example, for The Fiction of Money, their recent contribution to the exhibition Mirrorcity at Hayward Gallery, ASE took a small group of participants to the trading floor of an investment bank, and used discussions, games and writing exercises to explore both historically, and in the present day, “how money flows between different realities”.
It is interesting to consider the prevalence of the alternative, particularly over the past crisis-stricken seven years. The premise of the alternative is an increasingly fraught term in its subjective distinction to its mainstream opposite, whether this be politics, historical accounts or indeed, economics. Viewed in an economic context, the term alternative is problematised by the co-option of Neoliberal aspirations, and in parallel development of the Web, is appropriated as an industry-standard buzz word for entrepreneurial, individualist and competitorship rhetoric.