Fellowship of Citizens

31 May 2018 – 30 Jun 2018

Event times

Tue-Sat 6-9 pm

Cost of entry


arebyte Gallery

England, United Kingdom


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Fellowship of Citizens is London-based artist Saemundur Thor Helgason’s first solo exhibition in London.


Part of arebyte’s 2018 programme Islands, the interest group seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of a financing scheme which operates as an economic island, a microcosmic financial system, lobbying for basic income in Iceland. The work operates on a national scale due to legal restrictions, but financially supports BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network), an international organisation that advocates for basic income worldwide.

Fellowship of Citizens aims to fund BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network) with regular payments raised by a national lottery called ‘Happdrætti Listamanna’ (or ‘Artist Lottery’) open to all citizens of Iceland [2]. In Iceland, the Listamannalaun (or ‘Artist salary’), annually awards a given number of artists a monthly basic income for 3 months to up to 2 years. If we imagine (as Joseph Beuys did), that everyone is an artist, in some ways this could be seen as a trial for analogous minimum basic income. Bearing this in mind, the lottery campaign will address all citizens as if they were artists. Slogans include "Who creates more masterpieces at dinner, you or Warhol?”, “Embrace your inner artist", "Are you a good cook, by Duchamp's standards?", "Who's the better karaoke queen: You or Marina Abramović?”

Happdrætti Listamanna does not pose as a micro pilot for basic income but serves as a tool for promoting the idea of basic income. Due to legal restrictions on small-scale lotteries in Iceland, the first prize cannot be money, or quasi-money, but must be a commodity or a service.

For the inaugural lottery draw, taking place later this year, the first and only prize is I’m feeling lucky, a 100g, 18K gold artwork by the London based artist Anna Mikkola, commissioned by the interest group.

Fellowship of Citizens aims to finance its activities through the lottery and generate artworks, essays, articles, films etc in collaboration with various agents in the creative economy. Rather than being a symbolic gesture addressing the lack of economic value of marginalised types of labour, the organisation aims to provide systemic change.

As part of the exhibition at arebyte, excerpts from for a new short film written and directed by Hawk Bjorgvinsson, Wilma (2018), will be showcased. The film is produced by Fellowship of Citizens where the director has been given a carte blanche to make a film of their own choice, on the basis that excerpts from the film may be taken out of context to serve as non-illustrative visual material for the interest group and the lottery.

Accompanying the short film, a new sculptural body of work has been produced in collaboration with photographer Berglaug Petra Garðarsdóttir. Photographs, depicting behind-the-scenes of the making of Wilma, are eclectically displayed on monolithic lottery

sculptures slightly elevated from the floor and which turn slowly synchronously in the gallery.

The exhibition also features a new written contribution by Nick Srnicek on Abolishing the Distributaries of Value (2018).

Typeface and graphic design by Gnax Type.

Music: 'Spooky Theme' by Mystified.

Exhibiting artists

Saemundur Thor Helgason


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