Alinah Azadeh

The Book of Debts Provocation: An Ode to Debt

Alinah Azadeh

The Book of Debts Provocation: An Ode to Debt


A sum of money owed. The state of owing money. A feeling of gratitude for a favour or service. An incomplete transaction. A broken agreement. A social interaction. A moral obligation?


Debt as the shadow side of wealth, debt as sin, debt as power, debt as dependence. Debt as story, plot, trap, promise, as social stigma, an injustice, an inequality. Debt as anxiety, failure, struggle, dysfunction, as disruption, as secrecy – debt as a Pandora’s Box, a paradox.


Debt as the poison gift, as virus, as pleasure – as freedom – as obscenity, as excess. Debt as a form of slavery, a form of violence, a stalking beast, a loss, a death, a dead end.


Debt as taboo, as absurdity. Debt as a sign of poverty, as a sign of wealth – debt as criminality. Fear, lament, guilt, purgatory, hell.


Debt as the basis for war, for revolution: Burn the records, redistribute the land, take control.


Debt as illusion, as separation. Facing and questioning debt may breed; communal reckonings, Biblical Jubilee, Rolling Jubilees, payback, write-off, alternative economies, creative ways to resist, question, renegotiate. Debt reframed as an opportunity to change paradigms, embrace new forms of interdependence – exchange , gift and generosity, the basis for community. Accountability, truth and reconciliation, respect for human rights, reparations, long-awaited justices; mercy, redemption, absolution, forgiveness, relief, gratitude, compassion, connection, transformation, taking the past out of the future, turning points. Turning it inside out.


This is The Book of Debts. There is no debt without a story. This book asks for and accepts debt stories of all kinds – and all scales. Financial, social, emotional, political, ecological, spiritual, ancestral. What is in your human book of accounts? What is in our book of human accounts? What would you have written off today, what is there to draw a line under or to draw attention to on any level, that affects us all? Money, social injustice, time, love or attention withheld? The debt may be one that is a burden or a source of fear. A debt you intend to pay or one you will never repay. It may be a debt you are proud of – or a debt you share with others.


Who owes what to whom?

What needs to be paid back?

What needs to be remembered and resolved, accounted for?

What can be forgiven, returned or released?


Alinah Azadeh

Performed 2012 – 15


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