Bureau d'Exchange - Cynthia Schwertsik
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About This Project

Bureau d’Exchange is a  cross-disciplinary artwork, conceived by Cynthia Schwertsik, and delivered by a core team of collaborators, including curator Andrew Purvis and performance collaborator Emma Beech. This new work combines elements of visual art installation, with participatory, one-to-one performance. Bureau d’Exchange was part of The New Money, curated by Andrew Purvis for the  Adelaide Central Gallery during the 2021 Adelaide Fringe.

At its core, this work considers alternative rationales for valuing and exchanging goods, privileging emotional attachment and associated narrative over utility or aesthetic worth. While this work avoids explicit reference to real-world events, it considers the economic impacts of COVID-19, the compromises and sacrifices necessitated by economic recession, and a re-evaluation of consumer culture and systems of value. Bureau d’Exchange won one of the Fringe awards and has a great review by Indaily

During regular one-to-one participatory performances, audiences are invited to offer items to the Bureau for emotional currency, or exchange them for existing stock. This performance will involve collaborative story-telling, as performers guide audience members to generate narratives of emotional attachment to their possessions. These narratives will be recorded on item tags and displayed alongside the exchanged goods in an installation reminiscent of an antique store or house museum, forming the installation aspect of the project.

Thanks to Adelaide Central School of Art for putting this great show on and for supporting Bureau d’Exchange and the fabulous Sam Roberts for the photographs.


All, Collaboration, Mundane Observations, Paper Work, Participatory Exchange