"It is often declared that the upside of a depression, be economic or psychological, is that it promotes creative thought. Art Barter is hard evidence of this claim. Launched in November 2009 by London-based curators Lauren Jones and Alix Janta, Art Barter re-examines our current system of exchange, encouraging the trade of art for goods and services, not money.
While the concept itself isn’t all that new—Picasso and Modigliani were famous for trading paintings for meals, the Chelsea Hotel accepted art as rent, and Andy Warhol traded his talent for a video camera—Art Barter has expanded the willing artists to include Tracey Emin, Gary Hume, Mat Collishaw, Gavin Turk and more, and added an element of surprise: the unconventional buyer.
In a time when art and the artist have become commodities, appraised by their monetaryvalue, investment strategies and instrumental objectives, Art Barter asks: What is a piece of art worth? A year of psychotherapy or piano lessons? A lifelong supply of milk, cheese and eggs? A trip to the Bahamas? An exhibition…a kidney? At Art Barter, you can buy art with anything, except money. As Tracey Emin, who bartered one of her works for 30 hours of French tuition, explains, “It cuts out the middle man… It ıs looking at the work, rather than the artist.”
Susanne Mehr, Dossier Magazine, December 2010
To see exchanges made during previous shows, please check the following pages: