This show resulted from an invitation; an invitation to the creators who over the past few years have shaped this gallery; an open invitation to take part in a show that was to be a celebration of some sort; a social activity, which, we hoped, would allow us to search for the limits of the art market and the financial entrapments that shape it.
Gift economies have always existed. They are not new. On the contrary, they are older than any other economic system. They have continued to exist alongside the capitalist economy that emerged in Europe between the 13th and 16th century and they continue to exist today. They are fundamental to everything we do. All of us participate in an invisible gift economy every day. We lend a bike to one of our friends. We invite someone over for dinner. We engage in a conversation and during that conversation our ideas converge and collaboratively we create new ideas. None of these exchanges can be calculated precisely - let alone capitalized upon. These are, one might say, gift economies.
One such typical example of a gift economy is the potluck. The origins of the term are not exactly known - some say it was derived from pot and luck, other scholars argue that it is a rephrasing of the potlatch gift exchange tradition that is found among indigenous groups from the Northern Americas - but the principle is easy: you organize a meal for friends and everybody brings along a dish. This can be whatever they can miss. It might be a main dish, or just an aside. It’s all good. It’s about sharing, not about the ultimate result.
For Potluck we invited artist-friends to participate in a communal undertaking: sharing and gifting of unfinished pieces, untold stories, or unsold works. We wrote to them: “Bring what you have and share what you can miss. And maybe, if we can, we might begin to express the outlines of a different world, in which sharing rather than deprivation are central.” The combination of these unfinished pieces or untold stories will be our potluck.
We are, of course, a private gallery. And in that sense, like many institutions in the art world, we are intertwined with the art market, its commodification of aesthetic experiences and its complicitous relationship with an economic system that calculates, capitalizes and, in doing so, also brings systematic injustice and ecological destruction. But Everyday Gallery is also, and foremost, a close-knit community: artists, writers, curators - misfits running around in the cogwheels of capitalism, trying to gift aesthetic experiences to the world. From the start we have aspired to be more than just another node in the web of the art market; we have always aspired to do more than to capitalize on the production of aesthetic experiences. We wanted to be a community. You (including you visitors) are our friends and as such we escape the constraints of a capitalist economy. We pass over into a gift economy.
The aesthetic work that we have collectively developed, is deeply and actively concerned with expressing change, or with asking what systemic change might be. Collectively and individually, the artists connected to Everyday Gallery have worked on issues such as sustainability, systemic contradiction, revaluation of wasted resources, respecting and communicating with ecological systems. In Potluck we share some of these works. And in doing so, allowing visitors to buy these works, we can gift the revenue to organizations that strive for systemic change and social justice in a very direct and practical way. For this reason, 30% of the revenue of this show will be donated to an NGO that works to better our world.
Text by Bram Ieven