Exchange Values on the table can be used in different contexts within and outside the art-world to host and enable participatory, reflective assemblies.
Physical elements, participatory processes and diverse contexts
As a social sculpture ‘instrument of consciousness’ it has components that are both physical-material experiential elements and participatory processes. It is designed for use in a wide range of social, political, educational, art and other cultural contexts. It has also been used as a central element in seminars, conferences and other research contexts.
A Social Workplace
Whilst Exchange Values is an arena for engaging individual receivers and group members at its listening stations around the walls where they encounter the voice and spirit of the invisible person who grew a particular banana, it is also a social workplace.
Through its carefully designed ‘forum processes’ at the table it:
a. enables active, multi-dimensional and unique ways of engaging with significant themes, issues, and realities
b. makes tangible and strengthens the connection between individual insight and group vision; between inner process and outer actions
c. uncovers the potential for new forms of connective action and understanding regarding global economic-political-social realities.
A Structured Process and Handbook
Since 2007 there has been a structured process for working at the table, which educators, coaches, museum staff, organisations, projects, and community members can be trained to facilitate. A process ‘handbook’ [first developed for Zurich, 2011] and then updated for the Netherlands [2017-18] is being formalised for wider use.
Anyone can be trained to facilitate the process.
Scale of the forums
Since 1996 over one hundred forum processes have taken place. Some forum processes are small with between 7 and 15 participants. Many are between 20 and 30 participants. In South Africa some of the processes involved up to 80 participants.
Who has used it
Exchange Values has been used by NGOs/Non-Profit organisations, International Conferences, Museums, Art Galleries, Universities as part of research enquiries, Education for Fairtrade and Agroecology programmes, and as part of philosophical, ethical and spiritual explorations about the relationship between freedom and responsibility.
Themes have included…
freedom and responsibility / ‘free trade’ / globalisation and gender / contemporary colonialism / empathy and action / colonialism and slavery / the global economy and the nature of work / unconditional basic income / de-growth economics / global trade agreements / new economics and ‘working for each other’ / environmental and social justice / ‘beyond unfair trade’ and ‘fairtrade’ / alienation of producers and consumers / the consumer as the ‘contract giver’ and the role of boycotts / sustainable agriculture / social sculpture and connective practices / the relationship of the individual and the collective / connecting inner and outer work / sensuous knowing / invisible lives and unheard voices / how we live in the world / needs, wants and strivings / creative agency and the role of consumers in developing new narratives / the field of transformation / understanding what Beuys meant by ‘every human being is an artist’ / direct democracy, new modes of thinking and eco-social economics / the role of imagination in transformation.
Between the structured forum processes
With the 5-metre table as part of the installation, all visitors that come into the arena become participants. By sitting at the table, they realise they are ‘participants’ in the global economy and not simply ‘consumers’ of an exhibition-installation.
Space and infrastructure required
Although it is clear that it works very well in diverse contexts, it does need a fairly big space with walls on which the 20 sheets of skin and their metal frames can be attached. Such venues are usually found in museums and university galleries. However, this is not a necessity. On several occasions we have erected temporary walls especially for the installation in deconsecrated churches, and even in a conference venue for a one week period. See SPACE in Logistics
It is great for participants to be able to touch the skins. And there are headphones at each listening station. So it requires the kind of invigilation that one finds in museums and galleries, including some daily switching on and off process.
The rates for use vary depending on the organisation, venue, group and country. We can discuss this when you make contact. The aim is to use Exchange Values and not let rates hinder this.
All logistical costs have to be covered. Where there is sufficient external funding then farmers and their organisations are also able to contribute to the fora.
Exchange Values has received many forms of sponsorship. Often local venues apply to organisations, including the Arts Council of England, the NGO ‘Banana Link’, University Research groups, Banana Distribution Companies, and grower organisations.
If you are interested in presenting Exchange Values and making its social sculpture process available, please contact Shelley Sacks for full details and to discuss ideas and viability.
Shelley Sacks Tel: UK +44 (0) 7812072327 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org