Call for Participation: Currency

Currency is often taken simply to mean money, but if currency also suggests relevance, presence, value and systems of exchange, what exactly has currency in an era in which value systems seem to be shifting? When a state of fluidity characterizes everything, how is value built and enhanced, and what kind of currency is worthy of our investment?

DesignInquiry invites makers and thinkers of all disciplines to contribute projects to its 2019 topic: Currency. Our source is the wellspring of value and communication systems that counter — or supplement — the precarious conditions of the present. The emergence of “alternative currencies,” from handshakes to skills-shares, and of systemic proposals ranging from postal banking to universal basic income schemes to crypto-currencies may represent efforts to stabilize exchange amid the collapse of mercantile systems, (see the recent e-flux journal “What’s Love Got to do with it?”) Think memory banks (Keith Hart), precarity pilots (Brave New Alps), network power (David Singh Grewal) and Errol Flynn swashbuckling backwards up the stairs.

This topic is a kind of creative stock-piling, celebrating creative practices of generosity and care to create a fertile laboratory of ideas, a skunkworks of invention to slowly release into the future. If money shares an etymological link with memory, muse and museum (a place for depositing memories) and currency shares a link with current, then what will be memorable and current tomorrow? Trophies on the wall or things in circulation? Solo achievement or collective inquiry? The love you make or the love you take?


OCTOBER 10-13, 2019

Location: DesignInquiry’s Futurespective exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA.

Inside the gallery, we will have a working space with a risograph printer, a giant cinderblock letterpress, projector, wallspace, bread-making cart, crockpot array, and spotty wifi.

Cost: need-based sliding scale of $100-250 USD includes registration, some materials, some light meals (so people can enjoy Portland’s food scene.) DesignInquiry thanks you for your support of the Inquiry and the Futurespective.

Limited scholarships are available. Accommodation is not provided.

Thursday Oct 10th: evening welcome and kickoff
Friday Oct 11th and Saturday 12th daytime : Inquiry
Saturday 12th evening : public event TBD by Inquirers
Sunday Oct 13th : wrap up and conclusions

Given the short amount of time on hand, the desire to make an artifact of our work, and the need to be timely and urgent in relation to our topic, we are interested in proposals leaning towards making. How might we respond to systems and hierarchies of value? To social constructs determining material realities? What are the invisible currencies we live by and how might we shed light? How do we transfer value? What do we treasure? What is worthless?

To apply to join DesignInquiry’s Currency Inquiry, send your application with answers to the questions below to Framers review questionnaires and assemble DesignInquirers based on potency and other/wise compatibility. Applications close when the residency is full.

Proposal for 2019 Currency ICA Portland (500 words max)

1) The Basics. Name and Contact information.

2) Tell us about yourself (and list team members, if applicable).

3) Describe a prompt and/or what you hope to accomplish during your time in the Inquiry environment. A prompt can be a short invitation to make something, as broad as a question or a specific list of instructions. It may present an angle of view, a perspectival shift, a code switch that for a moment mobilizes the energy and steers the thinking power of a group.

3) How does your project embody Currency, as related to your personal sphere of practice (or not)?

4) Describe a possible distribution and dissemination strategy for the project’s outcomes and the project’s anticipated impact.

5) Who else needs to know about DesignInquiry Currency? We welcome bright lights from varied disciplines who can help expand the topic in all directions. Please forward their email to us, or us to them.

Send your application with answers to We’ll get back to you ASAP.


Additional Inquiries

This is first in a series of Inquiries and events surrounding DesignInquiry’s 2019-2020 topic, Currency. DesignInquiry welcomes widespread collaborative explorations of the topic Currency; please be in touch with ideas and possibilities.

Brave New Alps.(2015). Precarity Pilot: Making Space for Socially- and Politically-Engaged Design Practice. Modes of Criticism 1.

Curtiz, M and Keighley, W. (1938) The Adventures of Robin Hood. USA. Warner Bros.

Hart, Keith. (2001). Money in an Unequal World: Keith Hart and his Memory Bank W. W. Norton & Company

Kuan Wood, B. (2017) “Is it Love?” What’s Love (or Care, Intimacy, Warmth, Affection) Got to do With It? e-flux & Sternberg Press.

Stiegler, B. (2013). Care: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care. in Telemorphosis: Theory in the Era of Climate Change, University of Michigan Library: Open Humanities Press. Available at http://quod. lib. umich. edu/o/ohp/10539563.0001, 1, 25.

Tronto, J. (1993) Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care. New York: Routledge