It is what it is: The Other Market (2013)

{Social Design master Graduation Project. DAE -2013}

The sociologist Manuel Castells, in the documentary from VPRo Time For Change, states how people accept capitalism, not because they agree with it, but because it is the only system that they know. This made me think of the importance of hinting people with alternatives, and I found the marketplace the best context for doing so. A market is the most representative public space, for it fosters the confrontation of people, cultures and ideas. Fernand Braudel argues that “markets are institutions of material exchange, over which capitalism has no special purchase”. This reinforces the relevance of this context for doing such a project.

Bringing together my practice and this context, I decided to start The Other Market. The Other Market is a platform, materialized in a meshwork of pushcarts, for trading products and services without money, using dialogue as a currency. The carts were made embracing the aesthetics of informality, aiming to create a contrast with an over-planned and over-designed society; this was also the initial trigger for dialogue on the streets. No blueprints, drawings nor measurements were done. There was little intention, if any, of achieving a look to it, but just a honest manifestation of the materials scavenged and the tools and processes available.

The market helped me gather considerable amounts of content, which I translated in The Other Media. It is not random the choice of audio, print and video as the formats for re-presenting the dialogues, for it is an example of taking the media in our own hands with tools that help us in doing so. My role as a designer is then re-defined as that of a provocateur, by presenting elements that trigger discussion; but also that of a link, by allowing the access to emancipatory tools to ordinary people. Now, with this project, I do not pretend to carry the responsibility of building a whole new operating system. Instead, using the words of Tony Fry, I “envision the formation of a critical mass of sufficient agency to make a major difference”.

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