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Barter Town

I am interested in spaces that are in between. The gap, neutral zone, fence, limbo and yet also the overlap, gray area, plaid, simultaneity, joint, the liminal space and what is left unsaid. The Trading Post series is interactive installations that employ these ideas. Historically a trading post was a site between established territories where different demographics could come to barter and exchange. This does come with stains of Native genocide and yet with a hope for actualizing true value for services and for the handmade.

To encourage art to take an active roll in leading a shift of cultural value, and to create a critical space that is neither one place, nor another yet both places, The Heather Hart Experience presents Barter Town: a Trading Post series. At Barter Town participants bring their ideas, services, songs, stories, unwanted goods, handmade art, appliances, anything they think may hold value and haggle for something that they want. The only rule is that no currency may be exchanged, i.e. everything is for barter. I want to encourage an alternative economy, one that asks the visitors to think creatively and to have authentic interactions with their neighbors.

Barter Town has the appearance of a street fair or block party, but all "booths" are run on bartering only- no currency allowed (no I-owe-yous for money, although drawing an I-owe-you for service is encouraged). Visitors can trade by teaching someone to dance, promising to clean their room, trading them their extra toaster, painting them a picture, or singing them a song.

This project has grown in size and popularity each year since 2009 and this fall I will be producing three days of them. I reach out to local business owners and art-makers to share their skills and help form a unique community around this event.

Funded by New York City, NY (September 2014)