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Announcement :: Social Welfare
why swap boxes?
08 Oct 2006
why do the streets need swap boxes? What is art and who defines it? In these times of increased fear and privatization I wonder what the public sphere even means anymore. If the notion of public space as something we can all collectively define is to die, it will be because we as a people have put our heads down and forgot about that world outside ourselves.
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In "Temporary Autonomous Zone", Hakim Bey wrote of the ability of groups and individuals to create temporary, constantly shifting zones of liberated space free from formal societal control structures and of the power that information wields when turned against its creators. What I am trying to do with the Swap Box Project and my other installation projects is to establish a temporary zone of interaction and exchange, a place where the streets are modified just a little to build something that snaps people out of their everyday routines and gets them interacting in ways they otherwise might never do, both with themselves and each other. It gets them digging into their pockets, contemplating that long-lost childhood notion of exchange, grinning for pictures with perfect strangers in front of a piece or else discussing with passers-by about what would constitute a fair swap.

You like my stuff? Well, don't just talk about it, offer me compliments and go back to typing. Do something about it. Think about ways you can turn your streets into the public space they should be. Pass on the Swap Box Manifesto (coming soon) or take up the tools in your own particular manner. We live in a stifling climate of fear, overwork and greed, and if we want to change it then it's up to us to do something. Bring people together. Brighten a few people's days and pass the inspiration on to them. It's in your hands.

Art is not the sole property of galleries. If we allow a select few to define what is and is not art, we're only fucking ourselves over in the long run. If it's going to be said that culture is dying, then we are to blame for sitting around and idly staring at our watches while it flatlines. It is up to us to think about who has defined the terms of our existence and what they get from it. Complaining about hegemony will get you nowhere. The only way to change a perspective is to toss yours out into the mix.
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