We-Traders. Swapping Crisis for City

This exciting new project is currently being developed by the Goethe-Institute, brilliant Vienna based curator/author Angelika Fitz and myself. It connects initiatives by artists, designers, activists and many other citizens from five distinct European contexts.

Neighbourhood committees transform wasteland into public space. Garden plot owners open their grounds to unemployed youths to test their small-scale business ideas. Self-organized community stores are finding niches where demand allegedly did not exist. Communities are becoming patrons where they were once supplicants. Citizens across Europe are currently taking the initiative to re-appropriate urban space. We call them “We-Traders” in the sense that they redefine the relation between value, profit and public good and are able to motivate fellow citizens to follow suit. We-Traders respond to crisis in several arenas of urban life, be it economic, social or ecologic. Their We-Trades diffuse the boundaries between buyers and sellers: consumers become co-producers.

In Lisbon, Madrid, Toulouse, Turin and Berlin the current crisis manifests different facets from empty coffers and social polarisation to a lack of civic sense as a result of excessive growth. In times of such crisis We-Trading is particularly interesting because co-determination becomes co-authoring. We-Trade increases ecological, economic and social sustainability. Any citizen who is actively involved in development, production and exchange will also assume responsibility for the outcome.

“We-Traders. Swapping Crisis for City” creates a knowledge and production platform for current and future We-Traders. Which initiatives worked well in one context? Can certain elements be replicated elsewhere? How does the relation between private initiative and public bodies work out in different contexts? By not only focusing the projects but also the people behind them, namely the “We-Traders”, the direct exchange of experiences is greatly facilitated.

From September 2013 to November 2014 interactive forums, workshops and exhibitions in Lisbon, Madrid, Toulouse and Turin as well as open calls in the web (coming soon!) invite you to join the We-Traders platform. Watch out for events in your city and become a We-Trader!

Text: Angelika Fitz and Rose Epple, curators/artistic directors
Photo and We-Trader Identity: Rose Epple

WE-TRADERS PROJECT TEAM: Project Directors: Berthold Franke, Susanne Höhn, Goethe-Institute · Concept and Artistic directors: Angelika Fitz (Vienna), Rose Epple (Berlin) · Co-Curators: Julia Albani (Lisbon), Javier Duero (Madrid), Stéphane Gruet (Toulouse), a.titolo (Turin) · Project Management: Julia Förster, Goethe-Institute Brussel · Curatorial Adviser Berlin: Sonja Beeck · Co-Producers: Goethe-Institute Lisbon, Madrid, Toulouse, Turin · Partners: A.E.R.A. Actions, Etudes et Recherches sur l’Architecture, l’Habitat et la Ville (Toulouse), Municipality of Lisbon, Pista 34 Cultura S.L., Matadero (Madrid), City of Turin

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