neil cummings

#Transacting publication

#TransActing; A market of valuesI co-authored a text for a book that re-performs the amazing event #Transacting; A Market of Values.

This bustling market featured artists, designers, economists, civil-society groups, academics, ecologists, activists and others who creatively explore existing structures of evaluation and actively produce new ones.

A sample from the text:

Neil Cummings (Critical Practice) and Andreas Lang (public works)

In thinking about how to construct the 'market stalls', the physical infrastructure for #TransActing, we decided to try and embody our interest in resilient evaluative practices. Our intention was to recycle materials from the terminated degree show exhibitions at Chelsea College of Arts to produce the Market’s stalls. Every year, there is a suite of skips used to dump unwanted artworks, trashed exhibition making materials and unloved things.

With this in mind Andreas introduced us to the autoprogettazione furniture series of Enzo Mari from 1974. The series utilised standard timber section to produce a range of tables, chairs, beds and bookshelves, using simple tools - a saw, ruler, square, hammer and nails, and requiring only basic DIY skills. The plans, with dimensions and cutting log for the furniture were also freely published by Mari in a premonition of a Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) ethic, and a gesture towards a cultural and material commons. We decide to use Mari as our guide.

Andreas and public works coordinated a series of workshops where we prototyped, tested and developed typologies using the Mari table-truss as a constant and iterated different heights and combinations for seating, roofing support, stalls and meeting spaces. We worried about sun and rain. We worried about tarpaulins and wind loading. We worried about being to ambitious with our available time and energy, and of overspending.

We talked about the improvisatory nature of markets, and the necessity of being able to re-use the stalls for other things after #TransActing. Too often in 'art' projects the incredible labour necessary for upcycling produces nothing but a temporary spectacle, itself destined for skip and land-fill.

To be true to the values we valued, we would need to ensure the stalls had a rich and varied life. It was agreed from the outset that #TransActing would wrest ‘the market’ as a bundle of technologies from its usual commitment to buy and sell for legal tender...

#TransActing was hosted in bespoke structures assembled by Critical Practice in collaboration with Public Works, and others. These market-stalls were interspersed with other spaces of assembly and exchange: a speakers' corner and a discussion hub while multiple currencies circulated, not all of them monetary.

Whilst the values of competitive markets dominate contemporary life, including art and its education, other values can and do coexist. Some, like care and generosity even flourish, #TransActing nurtured and celebrated these values in a spectacular one-day event.

 #TransActing is edited by Marsha Bradfield, Cinzia Cremona, Amy McDonnell and Eva Sajovic.

The whole publication is available to DOWNLOAD:
e-pub Open Access version


See the currencies produced for #TransActing or read about the development of the market stalls






51.490301, -0.128667

Chelsea College of Arts
16 John Islip Street
United Kingdom

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