Think Global Financial Crisis on steroids, and you’re getting close to the doomsday scenario upon which blackmarket is based. It’s the partnership between Performance Space and Perth-based “tactical media artists”, pvi collective.
Starting at Kings Cross’ Alaska Projects, groups of 10 participants – called “hustlers” – are each handed a phone and asked to register their tradable belongings. They can offer physical skills, such as sewing or fire-starting, or tradable knowledge to survive this alternate reality. Hustlers then scurry around Kings Cross to see how they would survive in a world that returns to bartering. If you feel you're lacking in an area like speed, compassion, weaponry, romance, courage or humour; track down the right hustler and get trading.
This interactive project was partly inspired by “renegade economist” Charles Eisenstein, who theorises alternatives to currency-based economies. It’s tricky to wrap your head around, but we get the impression pvi collective relishes this confusion. “I’m not sure any of us is quite ready,” says “head-girl” Kelli McCluskey. “Unless you are a hardcore doomsday prepper. What is a global societal collapse going to look like from our perspective, and what skills will we need to make it through to the other side?”
“We are hoping there may be some deeper thought processing around our current value system,” McCluskey says. “We cannot have exponential growth on a planet with finite resources, and yet we merrily roll along.”
These social critiques don’t detract from the sheer fun and absurdity of blackmarket. It’s basically a Kings Cross scavenger hunt, but along the way you’ll have interactions with strangers you don’t usually get day-to-day. “The capacity for kindness, empathy and generosity are basic human traits we don’t seem to expose ourselves to much these days.” “Maybe when the SHTF [her acronym for shit hitting a fan] these are the qualities we will seek out in others,” McCluskey says. Well, those and a good pair of running shoes.”
Streetworks: blackmarket is throughout Kings Cross between June 2–6 .
Tickets are $10–$15, available from Performance Space.