Barter Auction: A community project funded by Arts Council England & supported by Canary Wharf Group
We are pleased to announce Barter Auction, the solo exhibition of the sole trader Pat Wingshan Wong in collaboration with the fishmongers at the Billingsgate Fish Market. It brings the marginalised voices and stories of the fishmongers to centre stage as a collective response to the market’s second relocation by 2027. It is the second iteration of the Barter Archive, a series of works centred on the experiences of the market and Wong’s growing relationship to the Billingsgate fishmonger community.
Barter Auction is an exploration of power, commerce, and accumulation of capital through a performative auctioning of Billingsgate artworks. The exhibition attempts to utilise the economics of the art world and create artworks that can question capitalist power structures in our society, performing the consumption of memories as a critique of value production and the commodification of memories. Wong will hold an auction performance during the exhibition ‘selling’ her works, encouraging the visitors to reflect on the existing capitalist-consumerist culture and the social impact of gentrification. This ‘auction’ will not be the last, rather marking the beginning of the many auctions in the future as the market continues to be displaced.
In reference to urban legend and folklore, Wong has developed eight highly personal sketches and legendary stories of the fishmongers, alongside 3D-printed ceramics of their memorable objects, to be shown in a physical exhibition and live auction performance. Created from bone china extracted from fish bone ash, each work is formed by directly using the 3D-scanned data from the fishmongers’ objects. This exhibition will underscore an integral part of Wong’s practice — an ongoing dialogue with marginalised communities and an exploration into constructs of identity all through artistic practice.
Since October 2019, every morning before dawn breaks, Wong has immersed herself into sketching in Billingsgate as a way of opening up dialogue with the fishmongers. In early explorations of individual and communal identity in the market, she recorded and documented the fishmongers’ stories, and witnessed their strong community bond. She has since sought to construct an archive called Barter Archive involving the fishmongers in order to give visibility, respect and compassion to the invisible or marginalised communities on the Isle of Dogs.
The archive engages with the economic language of bartering, both physically and symbolically. It includes memorable objects ‘bartered’ by the artist, exchanged for her observational drawings of the happenings in the space, as well as videos documenting stories and memories of the Billingsgate community. The archive is a repository for the collective memory of the market and challenges the ways in which ‘value’ is assigned in our society amid urban development. Barter Auction follows Barter Outlet, a pop-up exhibition in Billingsgate Fish Market celebrating its community bonding earlier in June 2021.
- Artist & Exhibition Co-curator: Pat Wingshan Wong
- Exhibition Co-curator & PR: Wan Yi Sandra Lam
- Content Editor: Vivien Chan
- Visual Design: William Jacobson
- Exhibition Design: JMKD studio
- Exhibition Production: TJWK
- Creative Technologist: Kachi Chan
- Documentation Photographer: Jimmi Ho
- Ceramic Consultant: Ho Lai
Special thanks to Canary Wharf Group, Kingston School of Art, Royal College of Art
and the Billingsgate fish market community for their ongoing support to this project.
Barter Auction: Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Canary Wharf
- Opening Reception & Auction Performance: Saturday 6 November, 5pm
- Viewing Exhibition: Saturday 6 – Sunday 28 November 2021, 12noon-6pm
For further information, please contact:
Canary Wharf Group plc
T: 020 7418 2166