What We Want Is Free, Second Edition: Critical Exchanges in Recent Art

SUNY Press
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Explores how contemporary artists use gifts, barter,
and other forms of nonmonetary exchange as a means and medium of artistic

This revised edition of What We Want Is Free
examines a twenty-year history of artistic productions that both model and
occupy the various forms of exchange within contemporary society. From shops,
gifts, and dinner parties to contract labor and petty theft, contemporary
artists have used a variety of methods that both connect participants to
tangible goods and services and, at the same time, offer critiques of and
alternatives to global capitalism and other forms of social interaction.
Examples of these various projects include the creation of free commuter bus
lines and medicinal plant gardens, the distribution of such services as free
housework or computer programming, and the production of community media
projects such as free commuter newspapers and democratic low-wattage radio

Like the first edition, the second edition includes a detailed
survey of artists’ projects from around the globe, as well as critical essays
and artists’ texts that explore the underlying social history and contemporary
issues that further inform our reading of these works. This new edition also
features a new introduction and additional chapters on the relation of exchange
practices to democracy, the commons, object-oriented philosophy, and an
examination of the impact of ongoing globalization on the economics of artists’
projects. It also features a significantly expanded scope for the project
histories, including work from the past decade and a new section dedicated to
artist-initiated organizations and innovative models for new

Praise for the First Edition

you are an artist, read this book. No matter how you define and structure your
practice, the essays within What We Want Is Free will lead you to
consider important questions about how you work and what kind of life a project
can lead.” — Nailed Magazine
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About the author

Ted Purves is Associate Professor of Social Practice and Chair of the Graduate Program in Fine Arts at California College of the Arts. Shane Aslan Selzer is an artist, writer, and producer, who teaches at Parsons The New School for Design.
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Additional Information

SUNY Press
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Published on
Jul 7, 2014
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Art / Conceptual
Art / Criticism & Theory
Art / History / Contemporary (1945-)
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Cultural Policy
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
Social Science / Philanthropy & Charity
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Eligible for Family Library

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