Before monetary value was attached to services and goods, humanity engaged in business by means of barter-trade. The value of things to be bartered was often thought to be arbitrary but was in actuality dependent upon a participant’s needs or desires. When compared to today’s system of appraisal and value-assigning based purely on numbers and currency, barter-trade is easily romanticized as a more personal and perhaps less flexible mode of doing business.
This multidisciplinary project was produced in collaboration with the Institute for Heritage, Culture and the Arts/Philippine Women’s University and Ax(is) Art, a Baguio City-based collective of Indigenous and non-Indigenous traditional and contemporary artists, scholars, poets, and community workers. The overall project culminated in a series of events that included a three-week exhibition in three Baguio market stalls, where people bartered for artworks. Cultural and social issues explored include appropriation of Western practices, the impact of local/ global tourism, and the effects of globalization on Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples who co-inhabit a place.
AN INVITATION TO BARTER
The Markets of Resistance project provides participants with the opportunity to see the side of art that we sometimes forget in the process of commodification: that art is something human—and as humans, artists too, have to meet their basic needs through labour and even struggle. By bartering for the artworks, you come closer to the humanity of art. You are no longer a buyer simply guessing at values based on numbers. The value is there for you to see and experience, in the weight of trading goods, in the labour it takes to obtain them. The Policy of Attraction postcard series can be bartered for individually, in multiple quantities or as a complete set of 18 postcards. The artist requests that the interested customer look at the sample list of items to be exchanged for the equivalent number of postcards.
Examples of goods to barter
For a postcard or two: a gemstone, a shell, a homemade card, a song, a poem, seeds, buttons, pressed flowers, a handmade bookmark, a special feather, a favourite recipe.
For a few postcards or a full pack: baked goods, knitted goods, print, drawing, photograph, book, a pair of socks, preserves, notebook, vinyl, a tin. And local medicinal things—tea, sweetgrass or cedar, or different concoctions that many people in Guelph make.