Next Friday (the 21st) a small group of KBMP students will participate in the collaborative art project known as Barter Town. Created by Bemis resident Heather Hart and put on in collaboration with the Union for Contemporary Art, Barter Town is, “a series of exchanges where participants bring their ideas, services, songs, stories, skills, unwanted goods, handmade art, appliances, anything they think may hold value and haggle for something that they want. The only rule is that no currency may be exchanged, i.e. everything is for barter.” With the feeling of a street fair, Barter town is a space for, “personal reclamation but also in questioning dominant narratives and creating alternatives to them.”
In thinking about this project, two simple questions come to mind; what can KBMP students contribute to Barter Town? And, what can they learn from the experience? As with any project, I think KBMP students can bring energy, creativity, and skill. Channeling Kent Bellows, our students chose to name the booth The Wishbones (which they also thought would make a killer band name). Preceding the event, they plan to make and dig up some small works to barter. Perhaps more importantly though our students plan to create art at the event including poetry recitals and live portraiture. One of the stated goals of Barter Town is to question the dominant narratives of what an exchange is and I think our students will do just that. Live creation of art places almost as much value on the interaction and process as it does on the final product. Our booth will hopefully create meaningful exchanges that leave people with a piece and a valuable experience. In much the same way I hope our students can have a meaningful experience at Barter Town. The traditional narrative of how our young artists make and sell work puts little emphasis on the process of the exchange. They make art in the studio and it is bought by gallery visitors. I hope that our young artists can create dialogues about their art with the people who are experiencing it and learn from that process. I can’t wait to experience Barter Town and if any of the aforementioned interests you I hope to see you there too!
More information on Barter town: http://www.u-ca.org/events/2014/11/21/barter-town-trading-post-xvii-the-om-aha-blackbird