Brandon LaBelle

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Dreams of a Sovereign Citizen

developed as part of Synsmaskin, artistic research project

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Cincinnati / Mutual Aid Society (Josiah Warren survival kit)  

Public interventions: Downtown Cincinnati / Utopia, Ohio
Friday, August 25, 2017 –

Labor and love, equitable commerce and mutualism, the project of cooperation and profit for everyone: what Josiah Warren described as the problems of labor and wealth, and the freedom of the individual in society. Here in Cincinnati, Warren would work out his theories of economy through the Cincinnati Time Store which, between 1827-30 provided a unique alternative model against the expanding system of industrial capitalism at the time. Mutualism and “cost for labor” led to other perspectives onto value and profit, contributing to what Warren would understand as the inherent cooperative potential of wealth: the sharing of the benefits found in labor and the resulting spirit of neighborly love.


Mutual Aid Society (Josiah Warren survival kit) takes form as a performative homage to Josiah Warren and his anarchic principles, appearing as an intervention at the original site of the Store, on the corner of Elm Street and 5th Street in downtown Cincinnati. In conjunction with the installation of a set of historical markers at the site, a related “survival kit” is installed in the town of Utopia, Ohio, a settlement initiated by Warren in 1847. Utopia was based on Warren’s cooperative theories, and was an attempt to manifest his Time Store model on a larger scale. Over the years, the settlement resulted in an assemblage of domestic and industrial buildings, a number of time stores, and agricultural projects.