I do not see art making as separate from the political economy. The meaning of any art work emerges in dialogue as hundreds of people labor to make art, see art, distribute art, recycle art, exchange art, sell art, borrow art, steal art, forget art, share art, and throw art away.
To explore the terrian between art and economy, Exchange Cafe will open this Thursday, May 30th 6pm at a ribbon cutting ceremony on 4 West 54th Street, The Museum of Modern Art, New York City.
For Artists Experiment, I went looking in MoMA’s collection for twentieth-century precedents to the one-on-one practices of reciprocity that inspire me to heal, dream, and struggle against stagnant wages and austerity measures in 2013. I found artworks, neither singular nor static, that revolve around voluntary, reciprocal commitments. Rather than sitting alone on a pedestal, these artworks embrace dialogue and labor. Meaning is made in action, as two people gather, build, and distribute ideas. These artworks refuse to separate production from objecthood; the life cycle of labor and materials form the meaning of the work. Exchange Café asks: What exchanges are (im)possible here?
Exchange Café is dedicated to exchange-based practices. Tea, milk, and honey—products distributed by Feral Trade, Milk Not Jails, and BeeSpace—are available by exchange. Instead of paying with federal tender, Exchange Café accepts resource-based currency, validated by the requests of the people who use it.
An archive of relevant works by modern and contemporary artists sits in the space, as well as furniture I've made, aprons by SANS, a zine library, and an online research database by MultiAgency about the connections between exchange-based art. Weekly conversations with artists, activists, and critics (including a talk with Ted Purves and Shane Aslan Selzer and my long term collaborators on barter networks OurGoods.org & TradeSchool.coop) occur on Thursdays and Saturdays as well.
From May 30th through June 30th, Exchange Café is open every Thursday-Sunday afternoon.
Please visit waitstaff Kenneth Edusei (from SolidarityNYC), Forest Purnell, Amelia Winger-Bearskin (from MultiAgency Collective), Carla Aspenberg, Lauren Melodia (from Milk not Jails), Tychist Baker (from Milk Not Jails), and me at MoMA Studio: Exchange Café from now until June 30. We are open for tea, milk, honey, and exchanges at 4 West 54th Street on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 1–5 pm, and Friday from 1-8 pm. Learn more here.