Exhibition View at Konstfack Spring Exhibition June 2013
A bar in which the consumption of a beer is guided by a specific system; as a buyer of a beer, you can also choose to become a giver of a beer to someone else. The aim of the gift bar was first of all to see if this could create reciprocity between people at the bar, establish some sort of new and meaningful relation, a sense of community, and if it changed their perspective on gift giving in general. I opened the gift bar and during the evening around 30 people participated. Over a course of two hours 40 beers were given away.
Special labels were made for the buyer of the gift beer to put his/her name on. The bar would then pick a name from the bowl (in which all people at the party had signed up) and announce who could come and pick up their free gift beer at the bar. Because of the label the receiver knew who had paid for the gift beer and could possibly start looking for that person to say thank you.
The people who participated experienced the bar as a social bar and said that the environment created by the project made people much more comfortable and relaxed about interacting with strangers. One participant said: It made the act of giving more abstract. It wasn’t a “I give you one and then you give me one”, but rather the idea that if I give something out then there is a possibility that I will get something back...a beer, a “hi” or even just a smile.
Coins with a time value on them A set includes three different handmade coins, a brass coin representing 1 day a copper coin with the value of 1 hour and a tin coin representing 1 time.
I have been using these coins within different contexts to trigger people to give their time to someone else. Each time gaining new insights about how this change of currency affects how we value things, services and relations.
The coins are sold under a little gift of time, presented on a card where you can write down a personal message and a description of what you are offering your friend, lover or family member. Every combination of coins is possible, meaning you can give for example three hours, two days or just one time. The coins are merely symbolic objects, functioning purely as vessel for the actual gift, which is someone’s time, attention and care.
koha: a maori custom which can be translated as gift, present, offering, donation or contribution.
This final project for the research ‘triggering a gift economy’ is aiming to create connections at Konstfack through gift giving. To establish this I worked together with the local Bakery, Söderbergs Bageri, which has a great reputation amongst the Konstfack students and staff.
Together with Söderbergs Bageri, I introduced the rule of ‘buy one give one’ (also explored in the gift bar) to people from Konstfack who would purchase something at the bakery. For 5 SEK extra one could buy a bag of Koha Cookies for someone else at Konstfack, who was randomly picked from a bowl of names.
The initiative came from the feeling that after spending two years at Konstfack, I realized how little people I actually got to know at this school. This is partly due to the architecture of the building, the limited access to spaces, and the way in which the school is departmentalized. I saw this as a perfect setting to test if gift giving can create any change in the way people create relations with one another and if this could somehow break down walls.
In the film I talk with students from different departments about their life at Konstfack and I ask them to respond to my project. Finally it shows how the concept of Koha Cookies practically works.
TRIGGERING A GIFT ECONOMY
2013 / thesis project for MFA Experience Design
Research project that investigates possible alternatives to our current economic system, focusing on the gift economy in particular. The project contains a research paper and several design projects.
Abstract: “What would happen if, the systems we deal with everyday, and the situations we find ourselves in, could trigger us to give something to someone else?
This work started by exploring the theme of money systems and social structures and the ambition to find alternatives for our current economic system, which has failed in several ways. People all over the world are already coming up with alternatives that can supplement and stabilize our money-monoculture and that give new meaning to currency.
This research investigates a particular alternative economic system called the gift economy, which has great potential to build meaningful relations and re-establish a sense of community. Since the gift economy has been mainly researched by anthropologists and ethnographers in the last century, my focus is on implementing its principles in society today.
Through literature review, case studies and a series of design projects, this thesis articulates possible ways of triggering a gift economy. With a special coin, a concept for a bar and by linking the local bakery to Konstfack, we may start to understand what giving really means, how it can benefit us, in what way it can build more meaningful relationships and how it can offer an alternative way of thinking than what currently drives our economic system.”
For Master of Fine Arts degree in Experience Design at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm(SE) June 2013.
Thesis Advisors: Dr Ronald Jones, Dr Martín Ávila
External Advisor: Clive van Heerden