What was our take away from Stock Exchange?
The people’s dreams.
The people of Manchester’s dreams.
The Manchester Art Authority was invited to take part in Stock Exchange in Sadler’s Yard, Manchester, May 25th 2019.
Stall holders created street food, improvised art and offered clothing, bric a brac and beer. Instead of money, a barter system was used. Stock Exchange was cash free.
“Do you mind if we sit here and talk to you for a bit?”
Two cheerful and engaging men asked us about The Manchester Art Authority and what we were offering. The shade beneath our awning froze our fingers. The wind of the urban canyon swiped our stock, exchanging order for momentary chaos.
“We are exhibiting a series of works investigating the concept of financial value, in a broad sense, at The Old Bank Residency, round the corner, in late October. The Old Bank asked us if we would like to take part in Stock Exchange as a forerunner of our exhibition. We’ve been looking at classic aspirational slogans in our research – make a million by the time you’re x, retire by the time you’re y, make n by working part-time only. Today, we will make you a bespoke and unique piece of MAA art, a collage created from our old work transmuted into currency you might be able to trade here at Stock Exchange… or take home and keep a close eye on its fluctuating value. All we ask for… is your dreams. Your own ultimate aspiration. Write it down on a post-it here and now. Place it in a brown, cash envelope. We will read your dreams. We might integrate some of them into the exhibition.”
There are pizzas wafting their incredible aroma across the Yard. Serious sounds emanate from the decks up on the steps. Neil Greenhalgh is painting animals rare and extinct in a luxury boiler suit.
“The wall you’re sitting on is as divisive as Berlin. [It clearly isn’t] On the other side of the wall is the capitalist world – you can buy a beer in the pub, as you have. But step onto this side of the wall and your money’s no good here. You need a different kind of currency. The post-capitalist world is here; the capitalist world is over there. And you are sitting on the wall…”
We are all sitting on the wall. The wall is vast. Several decades, or probably centuries wide. It is built of robust stuff. It seems impenetrable. But when it falls – as all walls do – it will be rubble and dust and then one day it will be gone. It will seem incredible that it was even there.
“Do they have to be financial dreams?” she asks.
“… They need to be your dreams, your most authentic dream or wish.”
She writes her dream on the pad, peels it off the stack and folds it for the envelope. Dream No.23.
“We think of dreams as being personal to us, our innermost ideals that we strive for. To some extent our dreams determine the narrative arc of our lives. But once you step back you begin to realise that your dream could be contingent upon living in a capitalist society… just as it could be dependent upon living in a communist society, or an anarchist society. That which you held to be most personal might be part of a bigger machine. Have we outsourced our dreams? What would a post-capitalist dream be like?” I say.
She smiles. And backs off.
Maybe we’ll see you at the Old Bank Residency in October…