“What do you have, besides your money, to offer?”

30 May 2021

August House, Johannesburg

(Part of Open Studios Programme: May 2021 Edition)

The appeal of bartering lies in its options: any object, good, or service is on the table. Far from relying on arbitrary prescriptions of worth, artists who barter do so with a definite understanding of their works’ value—a value that is intimately tied to what they need.

Participating artists:

Lindo Zwane

Olwethu de Vos

Vivien Kohler

Khotso Motsoeneng

Jan Maande Tshikhuthula

Teboho Makoatsa

Michele Rolstone


“In 1969, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe hawked their sketches and paintings for a month’s rent at the Chelsea Hotel. Pablo Picasso traded his sketches for coffee and the bar tab in Paris throughout the 1920s. A sheriff in Shenandoah, Virginia owns two gestural paintings by Jackson Pollock, works he used as bail for convictions of drunken and disorderly conduct. Last month, New York-based artist Dave Vinod traded a painting with Designer Braces, an orthodontics office, for his thirteen-year-old’s braces.” [Fagon, Oliva; The Art of the Barter]

Amidst the current uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are looking to shift the focus away from currency (as being the only form of value) and recentre the artwork’s value through the process of exchange. The logic behind bartering, a form of exchange that preceded the invention of money, is simple: You have something I need, I have something you need, and we trade.

The barter system allows you to negotiate the worth of your object or service in relation to products or services that you want. This formula has always resonated within the art community, where carving out innovative ways to sustain creative production is a must. As an exhibition “X-Change” not only becomes a site-specific exchange but also an interactive piece as the process of exchange shifts the interaction between the buyer, the artwork and the artist.


Event Photos