“WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH . . .?” (A CONVERSATION ABOUT VALUE.)
“‘What would you do with . . .’ (A Conversation About Value.)” was developed for the iCan exhibit at IV Soldiers Gallery, curated by Ivy Castellanos and Esther Neff. The premise of iCan was a discussion about money and the arts, viewed through the lens of can collection: artists collected cans for the promise of a five-cent deposit (a single can’s value), and also used these cans in the performances and installations which comprised the exhibit.
When the idea of iCan was first presented to me, I became incredibly interested in personal sustainability. I had already been thinking about the value of personal time in connection with another project, the Bank of the Bureau of Self-Recognition, which deals exclusively in a fictional currency, the Self Dollar. Each Self Dollar is the promise of an hour of time to spend on yourself. iCan asked me to translate the time-is-money equation in a different way: How many cans does one person need to make enough money to survive for a day? A week? A month? What does this look like? What can those cans be made into? How much do they weigh? If we convert that weight into something else, is it worth more or less? My interests were literally material: what can we make out of something that we have determined is worth a particular amount in one context, and how much more or less will the created thing be worth? This question is a particularly interesting one for artists who work in performance: how much more is a situation worth if it is highlighted and presented as a live event, rather than just happening as part of everyday life?
“‘What would you do with . . .’ (A Conversation About Value.)” utilized the cans that had amassed in the gallery up until September 20, 2012. The performance began with a group discussion about the idea of value. Then, participants were asked to trace cans on the wall and indicate what they would use each amount of money to do, beginning with a single can (five cents). At the end of the evening, the walls and floors of the gallery were covered with drawings/tracings of cans with corresponding statements of worth. The drawings remained even after the cans were deposited; they functioned as a residue left by the group who participated in the work and expressed how we perceive and represent value.