Back in October, visitors were able to enter Tom’s Exchange in Paris - an entire economy that existed within the walls of Thaddaeus Ropac in Paris. Tom’s financial system ran for 24 hours, and people could trade among themselves, Tom’s “official” exchange or a more shady black market.

Using porcelain beads and hand-painted coins as currency, people bartered their way towards Tom’s gold standard of wealth - chocolate bouillon. Inside these specially wrapped Reese’s peanut buttercups were tickets for claiming ‘Chocolate Bouillon Tokens’ - a custom cryptocurrency Sachs’ had made for the event. Most people started with Euro’s and purchased a few beads direct from Tom’s exchange, but my favorite story is about someone who took a different path:

I exchanged my clothes for the chocolate bouillon. I have to go home, cause I just have a t-shirt and no jacket anymore.

That little story is incredible; I could sit here and write all sorts of jubilant words about that little nugget. But physically “losing your shirt” to gain more wealth and status in Tom’s economy? That has to be a perfect outcome for a participatory artwork like the exchange. Tom had no idea what was going to unfold in October; he could only set the rules and wait for the involvement of us - the audience - to complete the work.

A photo of the currency exchange kiosk by Tom Sachs.

Photos: Samuel De Goede

Originally written for the Sachsian Syndicate.

Previously: TGIM 42 - … So I fired up flea bay and discovered that a 50 dollar note from Scrooge McDuck will set you back about US$2000. Yup, Disney Dollars went to the moon, my friends.