Oxide is a monthly show about people recombining the elements of our economy to find better ways to care for ourselves and our planet.
Oxide seeks to understand economic innovation emerging from necessity and goodwill. The show offers stories of people questioning cultural beliefs around commerce, currency and exchange of any kind, to widen our understanding of wealth and well-being.
The balance and means of exchange have troubled us throughout time. The ancient Indian Vedic texts of 1700 BC condemned usury. Aristotle did not believe that accumulating possessions was the key to happiness. In fact, he saw the economy as being split into two opposing modes; exchange which satisfies genuine need, and exchange in order to acquire wealth and possessions. The latter he considered unnatural and dehumanizing. Sixteenth century painter Pieter Bruegel believed in the virtue of seeking pleasure and that true happiness is found by living modestly and limiting one’s desires. To Bruegel (see below) the search for structure & understanding of exchange was a pursuit. French economist Thomas Piketty wrote Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which examines drivers of wealth and inequality. He argues that inequality is not an accident, but a feature of capitalism and must be regulated in order to preserve democracy and peace.
We share in that tradition, of telling people’s stories in order to examine our relationship with giving, receiving, taking, wanting and needing. The show looks at current economic structures and seeks to understand the meaning of prosperity in the context of modern life by questioning our everyday participation in the marketplace, while weighing alternatives.
In the 1500s, Bruegel’s paintings provided a broad new vision of peasant life, examining the struggles of common people and their place in the world. He recognized the inherent, human turmoil between righteousness and selfishness and sought to illuminate these challenges in his paintings of daily life. In doing so, he ennobled the commoner through his art.