Below are just some of the things people have been offering to swap for anonymous artworks over the past few days at Art Barter in Dubai.
From a ride on a one-eyed pony, to artworks, to a two-week stay in an Italian villa, Art Barter is re-defining how we value art and asking the artist and audience to participate in the most democratic of processes. For the creators of Art Barter, it’s all about what you see, about experiencing art in a completely unbiased way, and about giving everyone the chance to own something they love. The audience submits an offer, art for art, art for ideas, art for experience and the artist has the final say. It’s that simple.
Art Barter has travelled around the world, run by Lauren Jones and Alix Janta-Polczynski. Last year they went to Mexico and the year before to Istanbul. This year, Art Barter, supported by Collectionair and Prolab digital, is being held at Alskeral Avenue in Dubai, an amazing new space laid out almost like a Hollywood film set with huge warehouses housing different independent art projects and galleries, such as the Leila Heller Gallery. This edition has been organised with Victoria Lelandais and Natasha Carella, and Art Barter’s creators tell us they are pleasantly surprised at how well it has been received, they weren’t sure how the system of bartering would go down in Dubai but there has been no shortage of interesting offers and it’s gaining momentum as Art Week continues.
For the first time this year they have decided to mix local and international artists. It’s not about curating, or about creating a visual space where different works bounce off each other in a conventional ‘curatorial’ way, but instead it’s about giving everyone a fair chance. The huge Art Barter poster tells us which artists are involved, some we have heard of, for example Gavin Turk and Nick Hornby, and others we havn’t. Who is Elnaz Niknani? and which work might be theirs? The result? Every work gets our full attention, and that’s what makes Art Barter so enticing. We can’t pretend that big names don’t matter in the art world, but like Art Barter are doing, we can definitely use them to bring attention to lesser known, but equally talented artists.
Walk in to Art Barter, which finishes on Saturday evening, enjoy the works, grab a pencil and paper and pin your offer to the board. Even the bartering process itself is traditional, no computers, no money, the offers themselves serving as a kind of physical Art Barter archive. With over 2600 offers seen on works so far, Art Barter is quickly becoming the go to place for an interactive and refreshing alternative to, let’s face it, those more stuffy and ‘exclusive’ art fairs worldwide.