In 2010, I moved to Shanghai and rented out an empty apartment. I decided to save money and published an announcement that I would make portraits in exchange for anything useful for my new apartment. In two months I got everything needed: from candles and dishware to furniture and household appliances. The portraits were fast sketch by black ink. Every day I received new guests, starting to take photographs of all the gifts and to write down the stories of the exchanges. So a comical experiment turned into the big project.
I decided to try to refuse money and began to define the objects of exchange based on utility parameter. I made actions to be fed and dressed up in exchange for portraits. They worked. I offered people the topic of the travel and everything came: backpack, matches, first-aid kit, compass and mobile phone. Then, I collected scholastic material for orphanages.
The exchange without money, not only confirms the value of the artist’s work and the important of the user of his art, but also makes them linked by an essential bond.
At the beginning of my project I was making 2-3 portraits to everyone and the person could get the one he liked most. In this way I started to collect hundreds of portraits that would have became different exhibitions around the world.
The first actions of In kind Exchanges out of China took place in Russia and in Balkans. In 2011 in Novosibirsk I realized the first exhibition of the project, featuring more than a hundred portraits and the same number of gifts got in exchange. Also during the week of the exhibition I lived without money: I painted for food and what I needed.
During my travel to Balkans I realized the opportunity that the project was giving to me and I started to plan a world tour without money, based on the only exchange of art and necessities.
Since 2015 I have been working with Claudia Beccato and together we invented a new portrait technique, so it is no more a fast sketch.
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