June 5th, 2012

Sergey Balovin / Сергей Баловин

Global Times

Putting the art in barter

The famous case of an American man who managed to swap a paperclip for a villa highlighted the perennially popular habit of exchanging, or bartering, goods with no cash changing hands. And the Russian Sergey Balovin has taken this practice to a new level by exchanging all of his artworks for non-cash goods. As Balovin puts it, "Live on art, with no need for money!"

Good taste

This May saw Balovin's Feed the Artist - Get a Portrait event which was part of his larger In-Kind Exchange Shanghai project. Balovin asks participants to give him anything that can be eaten or cooked - including vegetables, meats, fish and seasonings - or they can invite him to dine out in a restaurant. In return, Balovin will paint a portrait of each person. "I paint two portraits of each person in fact; one is presented to him or her and I keep the other one in my private collection which will be a part of a future exhibition," he told the Global Times. All the portraits are created in black ink.

The Feed the Artist event received a lot of attention in Shanghai and during its two-day duration, Balovin invited some 40 participants - both Chinese and foreigners - to his studio on the Bund. "The good thing was that we didn't need to discuss money," he said.

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