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Back-Alley Bargains & Dancing Waters


Liam Johnstone


February 1st, 2019 (One night art event in Duplex studios)


In a virtual world there is a lonely marketplace which contains a collection of goods that one needs in order to live forever. No fat left to trim, the market is lit by a solitary bulb which dangles from the ceiling’s apex. The grout in the floor is always so clean the tile merges into a pristine and endless hallway—though now we cannot see it. Cables are draped loosely over false-walls separating stalls. A shop opens at 7pm, just as others close. A food court encircles a floating walkway, encircled by flying fish, encircled by the leaves of trees which bear a popular fruit. The fruits fall, to be caught by the fish which glide effortlessly and eternally on the artificial winds of generators which hum a harmony to the bossa nova.


Exchange        Marketplace        Dancing Water

Input            Crucible        Output

Wares            Environment        Eternity


The exchange occurs in the transference between two entities. Here, a gesture assumes authority over the product as value is discerned by a participant— a token is handed over a countertop where the entity requested is passed over in return. Back-alley Bargains and Dancing Waters invites you to exchange an entity of your choosing for a jar / an artefact / The Elixir. A poem, a bottlecap, words softly uttered to an empty room; we define what form an entity takes, though an entity is always imbued with intention.


Back-alley Bargains and Dancing Waters performs an exploration of value systems pertaining to their fluid, subjective, and temporal nature. Does an entity preserve itself as a catalyst for exchange or does it slip into a pragmatism or commodity wherein value decays over time?


What then is it that is sought if not immortality through labour? The body—the mind’s ironic weapon against decay—the few final breaths past the threshold are attainable. Lasting marks infer a physicality, formed through form, through action, through labour, through presence. As if it were immortal, an assumed monolithic stone tower stands still through time. Yet it decays, it slumps, it falls and is weathered away to the polished surface which hides the tale of  feathered creatures. The pursuit of the next is the untimely end of the now. An immateriality can perform immortality.