The Samaras Project is a collaboration with the Anti-Advertising Agency in San Francisco. The Anti-Advertising Agency was founded by Steve Lambert through a grant from the Creative Work Fund to “call into question the purpose and effects of advertising in public space.” Structuring it like a real advertising firm, Lambert “hired” staff through an open call for proposals. Different artists projects were selected that intervened in some way with the pervasiveness of advertising in public space.
When planning our proposal, Josh MacPhee and I discussed our disinterest in directly critiquing advertising as an artistic or political strategy. We decided we wanted to promote what we do like to see in the world rather than focusing on what we don’t like. We began thinking about alternatives to capitalism that already exist. We began exploring how economics are really sets of social relations and like other social relations, some promote autonomy and interdependence, while others support exploitation or domination. By looking at the complex web of exchanges between different people and different communities, we investigated and advertised those economic models hiding in the shadows that have as a goal human sustainability, instead of the accumulation of wealth. We looked at practices ranging from simple ideas like sharing amongst friends and neighbors to complex processes such as cooperatives and worker-owned and operated businesses.
We (Josh, Steve, and I) developed a set of post cards illustrating these ideas and gave examples specifically for the Bay Area as this was the first site of our action and home to our collaborators the Anti-Advertising Agency. The cards were designed by Adam Connelly. A street team was sent out at lunch time in the downtown financial district of San Francisco to distribute the cards. Additionally cards were clandestinely placed in commercial bathroom advertising displays. We also set up this blog to expand the discussion beyond the streets of San Francisco, we hope you will contribute.
The Samaras Project takes its name from samaras which are winged seeds that fly from trees such as the Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus Altissima). This hearty tree will grow almost anywhere in any soil, often up to 3 inches in one month. Our project intends to spread info about alternative economic forms that have continued to root in communities around the world even as capitalist globalization claims hegemony over economic and human interaction.
The post cards we created were: Open Culture, Gleaning, Local Currencies, Worker Owned Cooperatives, and Community Networks but there exist many other forms of exchange to explore.
If you have any thoughts to add to this dialogue, please publish your comments on our blog.