Circular Exchange

To me the transaction of the exhibition is not about the gift, but the interaction of the gift given and the gift received, which is not really gifting in the same sense to me, (implying some sort of net material loss for the giver in order to produce meaning), but rather exchange.

But what are the implications of the exchange as configured? For me, the really interesting thing in the show is the way it arranges the relationship of the artists into a circular form (of exchange) rather than along a line, each one counterpoised on a economic level as competitors, as we normally are arranged in a group show.

But the circular exchange paradigm has certain limits too, and to truly follow the ‘utopian impulse’ we should seek the idea’s scalability to operate as a larger model. And through our economic relation as artists participating in an art market, and that artists can sell their own work at a premium compared to the value of owning another person’s work (everything else being equal), so in gifting and receiving, there is an “opportunity cost” (of losing the sale price of one’s own work). Which in effect, becomes equivalent to the purchasing of the other person’s work. This is not a comment on quality or my contentment with my choice (I chose Brent Hallard’s wild jumpy flat metal filing cabinet painting incidently, which was the one I wanted most from the website—thanks Brent!!), just understanding the implications of the idea from all dimensions.

How would a gifting exhibition of multiples (photos, prints etc..) work under the same rules, the economic question noted above falls away, but then perhaps the stakes are less too.. The nature of abstraction in relation to the gift exchange action seems critical, and also thorny, as there is a divergence of vectors pulling in opposing directions, isn’t there? Gifting invokes the dynamic exchange relation between parties (economics) and abstraction, to me, is anchored intellectually in the concrete of immanent (self-sustaining) meaning, needing no reference to an exterior source for meaning. Does the abstraction transcend the exchange process, or does it align it more easily for comodification?

I ask this because these are issues I am struggling with in my own work, tacking between painting and urban interventions projects– social meaning and aesthetic satisfaction– can one inform the other?

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2 Responses to Circular Exchange

  1. Pablo Manga says:

    Your post prompted me to think about another example of circular exchange–a kind of perpetual circular exchange among my friends and I: when we eat out together, we take turns picking up the tab for each other rather than dividing up the bill. Although this is a different scenario than we have in the show, I think there are some similarities. What the dining scenario highlights is that the act of generosity, receiving the generosity, and the trust in ongoing reciprocity and mutual care, all trump the settling of accounts with respect to any single transaction, in favor of the shared common bond. Here, the material stakes are arguably higher (it’s our art not dinner, some strangers not all known friends, and only a single material transaction), but similarly, the artistic-social exchange and common bond is the real reward of participating.

  2. tmartin says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your 3rd paragraph and I like your potential solution of gifting multiples. And/but, we’re in a time when multiples are being used to fill gaps in the market that appeared with the recession- I’m thinking of Jen Bekman’s 20×200 among others. I also think of the artist trading cards thing, which I know little about but sounds interesting. The other thing that comes to mind is Sloan Fine Art’s “Single Fare” benefits. I can imagine a larger Gifting Abstraction show in which the stakes are lowered and participation is raised. Yes, the exhibit may become a little less cohesive but the conversation and gifting market more dynamic.

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