One of the great things about Frieze art fair is the other events which spring up around it. The first Art Barter event took place in November 2009, and here art works are displayed anonymously and without prices. In order to ‘buy’ a piece of art in the show, you must barter or offer something in return. The best one gets the work. Having hosted the first event in London - featuring Tracey Emin, Gavin Turk and Matt Collishaw – Art Barter also organised an event with emerging artists in Berlin, including Saâdane Afif and Haralampi Oroschakof. Items bartered in the past include two weeks in The Bahamas and three months of psychotherapy.
Before taking Art Barter to New York in December, Mini Barter took place this Frieze weekend at the Neu Gallery in London’s Shoreditch. Artists, such as Matt Collishaw and Polly Morgan, put themselves on the line and offers included a week in Parisian flat and ‘a night with Ali’. One of the participating artists was Goldsmith’s graduate Phoebe Collings-James and afterwards she took some time out to speak to us about her work and taking part in the event.
Dazed Digital: How did you come to be an artist?
Phoebe Collings-James: Like most children I always had a keen interest in drawing, painting and making things. I suppose unlike with most adults that never went away.
DD: And what made you get involved with Art Barter?
Phoebe Collings-James: Lauren Jones, who organises Art Barter along with Alix, is a good friend and she asked if I would like to include some work at the first show last October. I really liked the idea of there being no money involved and also that the name of the artist is kept a secret. The anonymity means the choice of which works people like is purely based on what they see.
DD: What would you barter ideally? How do you quantify the value of your work with what someone might offer for it? For example would you barter a film?
Phoebe Collings-James: I would definitely barter a film. I don’t think anyone has done that yet, but it would be possible. I am happy to barter the artworks for anything that I want or will enjoy. It’s not about exchanging the work for something else of a similar price. Value here is not quantified by money. I would love to get out of London for a while so anything that involved a trip would be good.
DD: Is there anything you wouldn't part with?
Phoebe Collings-James: There isn’t any work I have made that I wouldn’t want to part with. Usually it’s quite the opposite. I spend so much time with it while its being made that I am quite happy to see it have a new home. There isn’t any work I have made that I wouldn’t want to part with. Usually it’s quite the opposite. I spend so much time with it while it’s being made that I am quite happy to see it have a new home.