Commissioned for Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory. Curated by  Casco director Emily Pethick, 2006.

Story Space on Gift Economies was made in collaboration with self-organised groups in Utrecht working on gift economies throughout 2006.

The project focused on gift economies and distribution networks and it took the form of:

Collaborative workshops and discussions
A video archive on gift economies in Utrecht
Collective writing and distribution of the free newspaper Gratis
Gleaning tour where we collected, cooked and distributed food.

The project was also shown at the exhibition: Radical Software
At: Den Frie Kunstbygning, Copenhagen, 2008



“The newspaper you are holding in your hand is given away for free, and is based on the model of other free newspapers, such as Metro and Spits. It was produced with the collaboration of a number of self-organized groups in Utrecht, as an attempt to highlight gift economies asalternatives to the dominant profit-based economy

While newspapers, such as Metro and Spits are also given away for free, there is an obvious difference in motivation when brought into relation with the activities of some of the groups that you will read about here in GRATIS. One could argue that these free papers could be viewed as commercializing the distribution of information, and watering-down political standpoints and public debate, which is the direct opposite of the projects and initiatives represented in this newspaper.

Initiatives featured in GRATIS, such as Food Not Bombs (who distribute free food), the Give Away Shop, and free radio projects, spread information freely through open source channels. This paper looks at how these alternative systems of
distributing material goods, information and services are structured, what lies behind them, and what they represent. For example, by giving everything away, the Give Away Shop’Weggefwinkel’ (Utrecht) positions itself outside of the dominant profit- based system and, as such, presents an alternative. FNB is based upon volunteer work, collecting food that would have otherwise gone to waste, ‘recycling’ it into fine meals that are handed out for free. These activities are what Karl Marx called ‘interstices’.

The interstice is a space in human relations which fits more or less harmoniously and openly into the overall system, but suggests other trading possibilities than those in effect within this system. It creates free areas, and time spans whose rhythm contrasts with those structuring everyday life, and it encourages an inter human commerce that differs from the ‘communication zones’ that are imposed upon us [1]

The interstice is a meeting point where participation itself is a primary good. Open source culture is another means to rediscover missing forms of giving and exchanging.”

“Swop Projects is interested in how these open source models are able to alter existing relations, and in the effects or goals of the recycling and reusing of resources? This form of openness is also reflected in artistic practices, as described by Mark Tribe in his book California Specific:

People still find interesting the idea that art can be thought of a social practice, rather than an individually authored object is not only the product of a solitary thinker, but can also be the collective result of a group of people in conversation [2]

Swop Projects positions itself in an interdisciplinary area between research, art and activism. Via collaborations and networks we try to settle in different communities and places around the world to build up strong relations as a means of changing structures. We see this project as an interstice, as Bourriaud describes:

This is the precise nature of contemporary art in the arena of representational commerce: it creates free areas, and time spans whose rhythm contrasts with those structuring everyday life, and it encourages an inter-human commerce that differs from the communication zones that are imposed upon us

GRATIS crosses national borders and disciplinary boundaries to bring together a variety of voices and points of view in order to visualize and communicate global models for economic counter-strategies, linking together economics, demographics, and environ-mental issues in order to gain a more complex political viewpoint.

Swop Projects has also set up an interactive story space at Casco, which is a free, editable space that is open to participation from visitors, which will continue to run on Extracts from the ‘Story Space on Gift Economies’ are published in this paper.

Swop Projects/Andrea Creutz & Lise Skou, June 2006″

visual artist

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