Give-n-Get Economy Outlet

The Give-and-Get Economy Outlet is a pop-up store and a dynamic, distributed collection of objects. It’s a structure that serves as a site for interaction. And it’s a series of practices, strategies, and resulting interactions with and between users.

As a system, the Give-N-Get is an experimental economy, with transactions (exchanges) between participants (who are all members of the same community). It seeks to produce a new narrative form: an object that contains personal meaning or emotional value, transformed into a “product” using explicit visual language and conventions of commercial/advertising practice.

In the Spring of 2009 I built a cardboard and masking tape structure, the Give-n-Get Economy Outlet store, and installed it at 721 Broadway, 4th floor. Prior to the store’s opening I collected small keepsake objects from some members of the community. I requested objects that had particular abstract, personal emotional value or meaning independent of any material value; I asked contributors/investors to write an explanation of the object’s history and meaning to them. I created hand-drawn graphics for each object, and packaged the objects as consumer products. When the store opened, these objects were its products; visitors to the store could acquire an object only by trading a keepsake of their own. Incoming keepsakes were packaged and added to the inventory.

While the outlet was open, there was usually free limeade and cake available to lure in potential visitors. These consumables also had an abstract meaning/story connected to them, which was explained on hand-drawn and hand-lettered signs. Promotional pins were also given away at the outlet. The outlet was open for 5 days, during which 62 trades were made. A total of 66 objects passed through the system, plus 3 gallons of limeade, three cakes, and 40 free pins were distributed.

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