52 Renshaw StreetRe:Thinking Trade

Meshac Gaba, Souvenir Palace, 2010. Photo: Thierry Bal

Daniel Knorr, The Naked Corner, 2010. Photo: Thierry Bal

Re:Thinking Trade, 2010. Photo by Thierry Bal

Freee, Every Shop Window is a Soap Box, 2010. Photo: Thierry Bal

Freee, Every Shop Window is a Soap Box, 2010. Photo: Thierry Bal

Karmelo Bermejo, The Grand Finale, 2009. Photo: Thierry Bal

Lee Mingwei, The Mending Project, 2009. Photo: Thierry Bal

Meshac Gaba, Souvenir Palace, 2010. Photo: Thierry Bal

18 September - 28 November 2010

Since the social activism of the 1960s, many artists have taken a critical stance towards the dominant consumerism of ‘advanced’ societies. Bypassing, resisting or intervening in the mechanisms of late capitalism, they have sought to make socially relevant art that works outside or against the constraints of consumerism, bringing producer and consumer back into a human relationship. 

As a distinct themed section within Touched, Re:Thinking Trade proposes to ‘touch’ the city where it has been affected by globalisation with a suite of commissions that reappropriate the transactions of everyday economies. Artworks will offer ‘customers’ a variety of alternative ways to trade their time and attention in exchange for a benefit. This may be tangible, a real product, or it may be more ethereal and impalpable: an intellectual or emotional device to touch the recipient’s general well-being or self-perception. 

The artists in this grouping have been selected for their interest in critically rethinking systems of trade and exchange. However, theirs is not so much an antagonistic critique of these systems as a reframing of the act of economic transaction. By providing services, which are of real benefit to individuals, they seek to reclaim individuality from the anonymity and indifference of standard systems of economic exchange and to recover the reciprocity, generosity and human gestures remaining between individuals in the reciprocal acts of production and consumption. 

The negotiation between an artwork and its audience already encapsulates a basic economic principle: I give you something in exchange for something you give me. Art has to offer a broad range of emotions, affect and vision, the cost of which would be high if translated into monetary terms. An event such as a biennial does not provide or disperse this value for free. One can instead say that such events are highly demanding, since they ask for what is most valuable in contemporary life: attention, acknowledgement and time. Re:Thinking Trade is a hub for the alternative transaction of ideas, experiences and ultimately of ‘humanity’, envisioning new ways to trade people’s time and attention with artworks that seek out the possibilities for a virtuous process of economic exchange. 


52 Renshaw Street
L1 4PN