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What We Want Is Free: Generosity and Exchange in Recent Art

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Through a variety of lenses, this book examines contemporary artists' use of the "gift"--the distribution of goods and services--as a medium for artistic production. Featuring a detailed survey of over fifty artists' projects from fifteen countries, What We Want Is Free explores how these artists use their projects to connect participants to tangible goods and services that they might need, enjoy, and benefit from. Samples of these various projects include the creation of free commuter bus lines and medicinal plant gardens; the distribution of such services as free housework and computer programming; and the production of community media projects such as free commuter newspapers and democratic low-wattage radio stations.

196 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2004

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Ted Purves

3 books

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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews
Profile Image for B. Jean.
1,145 reviews15 followers
March 12, 2022
I'm trying to formulate a socially engaged art project for a class, and I'm struggling a bit so the professor recommended me this book. It's a good read - details the usage of gift & exchange in socially engaged art. There's a lot of helpful examples and is written in clear, concise language.
Profile Image for Scotch.
120 reviews3 followers
September 18, 2013
A great resource for art, artists and thoughts on giving and exchange in art. It becomes a little redundant by the latter essays and I wish it was a little more critical of the ways certain participant- or community-based artists actually work against idea of community and generosity (this is touched on conceptually but there aren't examples provided in art). But being overly celebratory about this kind of work is fine by me.
Profile Image for Katya.
32 reviews4 followers
June 1, 2020
gave up about halfway through, because there are too many good books to read and too much time at the moment. enjoyed what I read, but did not feel the drive to finish, as it is a bit redundant. good for essays and being exposed to new artists though.
Profile Image for Ally.
11 reviews6 followers
February 4, 2008
This book is an enjoyable, but at times unpleasantly preachy, writing about generosity and exchange in public and relational art practice. I think this is a difficult subject to parse in terms of moral or PC implications, and given those circumstances I still find this to be an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for marie pasquariello.
6 reviews2 followers
March 3, 2008
amazing! about new ways of thinking about art, geneorosity, and the gift culture. compiled by ted purves - professor at of social practices at CCA. good essays by mary jane jacob and lots of little summaries of artists who do amazing work that you might want to look into more.
6 reviews
December 22, 2008
I liked the first half of this book. It got to be too much after that for some reason...like eating brussel sprouts all day. You know what I mean?
Profile Image for Nikki.
9 reviews8 followers
November 4, 2009
Amazing-There are a lot of useful and inspiring writings and projects within this text. I especially enjoy the work of Jorgen Svensson.
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews

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