Barter Archive presents Barter Outlet, a pop-up exhibition at the newly opened Piggy Cafe in the Billingsgate Fish Market, celebrating its community bonding and memories as a collective response to the market relocation in the next five years. The exhibition is an extension of the two-year long community-led project Barter Archive constructed by the artist Pat Wingshan Wong using her observational drawings in exchange for the memorable objects of the fishmongers. These objects include disappearing porter badges, a rarely-seen shark skeleton, an invaluable lobster necklace, and many more.
The exhibition will feature 70 observational sketches of the fish market created by the artist. Bartering activities will organically and iteratively take place throughout the exhibition from 26 June to 10 July 2021. It invites the audience to exchange their memories of the market with the sketches on display. At the Open House, it will engage with a wide range of activities designed together by the artist and the fishmongers. The public activities include the Oyster Olympics, short films and live performances by the fishmongers, and a surprise guest appearance of Sammy the Seal.
The pop up exhibition brings different personalities of the fishmongers into a space, showcasing the multiple voices and diverse cultures within the market. Transforming the working space into an exhibition with performances, the artist sees the performance as part of their lives in the market instead of a tourist checkpoint. It invites the public to contemplate the significance of the space and work together to create narratives at the intersection of events and documents. While restaging the tradition of the market and recalling its collective memory, the exhibition also explores the relationships between the artist and the fishmongers as well as the public.
The cafe, as a community hub, is where the artist starts to meet people through her sketches, thus opening up conversation with the fishmongers. The exhibition engages with the fishmongers’ language, for example, barter and banter, and initiates a series of encounters and discussions at the cafe. The exhibition is a collaborative process, which incorporates the fishmongers’ concerns about how collective memory could be transformed and presented to the public, shifting the emphasis from the artist’s work to realising the impact that a community has on the way we live.
The bartering activities are moments of collective meaning-making. Bringing the sketches, activities and histories together, and presenting them to an audience that never encounters them in a public setting, the exhibition makes the cafe a site for open discussions, raising the awareness of the impact of capitalism on society amid rapid urban development.
Event highlight: Barter Roadshow (10:30 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. on Saturday, 26 June 2021)
Online registration: https://bit.ly/3iohkPg
Pat will lead a virtual tour of the ‘Barter Outlet’ exhibition at Billingsgate, followed by a panel discussion with guest speakers: Michael Eglin, fishmonger & owner of James Nash & Son, Richard Martin, Daskalopoulos Director of Education & Public Programmes at Whitechapel Gallery and Jessie Brennan, Visiting Tutor at Royal College of Art to bring different perspectives and voices towards this community-led project.
Please join us and exchange your memories! For more information, please visit our website www.barter-archive.com and follow our Instagram @Barter_Archive.
About Barter Archive
Barter Archive is a community-led archive constructed by artist Pat Wingshan Wong in collaboration with the fishmongers at the Billingsgate Fish Market. The archive engages with the idea of barter, both physically and symbolically. It includes memorable objects ‘bartered’ by the artist using her observational drawings of the happenings in the space, as well as videos that document stories and memories of the people. It preserves the collective memory of the Billingsgate community and challenges the domination of capitalism, highlighting and questioning the ways value is assigned through culture and society.
Artist & Exhibition Co-curator: Pat Wingshan Wong
Exhibition Co-curator & PR: Wan Yi Sandra Lam
Design & art direction: Europa
Creative Technologist: Kachi Chan
Documentation: Jimmi Ho
Content Editor: Vivien Chan