The semi-fictional IFS, Ltd., comprised of five graduate students from the Department of Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art – Benjamin Critton, Harry Gassel, Brendan Griffiths, Zak Klauck, and Mylinh Nguyen - will offer an original publication for trade in a series of barters executed by its authors during the three days of the NY Art Book Fair.
The Trust and the accompanying Book Trust Prospectus speak to matters of micro-economies and distribution, as well as prescribed and perceived value.
The project suggests a new currency specific to the setting of the Book Fair, a context in which a distinct set of commodities is exchanged by like-minded vendors in a finite space and time. It is only in this setting that a book could be posited as capital—a literal stand-in for the money that commonly exchanges hands at the Fair. Perceived worth is no longer dictated by edition or price, but instead by a potential traders’ subjective notion of the values they assign to each book.
The book, produced in a fixed quantity of 500, will vary in value as each negotiation determines and redetermines its worth in the marketplace. With each transaction, the Prospectus will assume the value of the book for which it was exchanged. The traded commodities will ultimately comprise The Book Trust, a value-appreciating book bank. By trading with IFS, Ltd. participants acquire a single theoretical share of the bank, the Prospectus a document of the transaction.
In framing the project in a format similar to that of a stock exchange, the performance emphasizes the tenuous and abstract value of the book as a designed object, as a medium for content, as a traded commodity, and as a symbol of participation in the project itself.
5–7 November 2010
NY Art Book Fair, MoMA PS1, New York