At a three-day event from 27 to 29 November, people were given the opportunity to barter for works of art on display at the Rag Factory gallery in London. Works by many famous contemporary artists were displayed, although none of the works was signed and the artist’s name was not displayed.
The idea was that people would barter for works on their own merits rather than because of the name of the artist. People could offer anything they chose. They simply wrote the offer on a slip and then the artist would choose which ever offer appealed to them the most. Offers ranged from a lettuce, a curry and even a song, to a Ferrari and a person’s own kidney.
As Stephanie Hirschmiller writes in the third linked article below, “Bartering has long been a mechanism on which the art world spins – from Picasso exchanging sketches for meals and London’s YBAs running tabs at The Ivy in exchange for pieces of their work to adorn the venues walls. Even Manhattan’s Chelsea Hotel, home to a slew of famous residents including Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas and William Burroughs would once accept art in lieu of rent from its cash strapped incumbents.”
So is barter a realistic alternative to the market – at least for works of art and some other items? Does it have any advantages? The following articles consider the issues.
Barter for Art (video) BBC Today Programme, Evan Davis (28/11/09)
Pick up an Emin for a song Independent, Annie Deakin (27/11/09)
Barter Economy The Handbook, Stephanie Hirschmiller (24/11/09)
Don’t believe the hype New Statesman, Stephanie Hegarty (27/11/09)
Saving on Art the Old-Fashioned Way New York Times, Alice Pfeiffer (23/11/09)
- What are the necessary conditions for successful barer to work? Can it ever be an efficient form of exchange?
- What are the advantages of barter over normal market exchange with money and prices?
- For what other products and services might barter be an appropriate form of exchange?
- Do you take part in barter at all? If so, under what circumstances and why?