DOUBLE A PROJECTS:
ATHENA ROBLES &
The title of this piece, I’m Free, was a slogan for our public project on Nassau Street, Free Store, in February 2009. As a cultural pop-up shop that operated on donations and a free exchange system, there was no shortage of items, participants, giving or receiving—all at no cost. The store was located a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site and visitors included locals, tourists, families and many who were curious.
An unexpected outcome was the enthusiastic feedback we received from participants. As a guideline to shopping at the Free Store, we asked shoppers to choose items that they felt they needed. For those who considered the request, we often witnessed personal responses and sometimes dilemmas. We began to hear in person and through notes and letters why people took or gave what they did, how people defined “need” and “free” and what people thought about generosity.
We had memorable conversations and exchanges with people, who openly shared their opinions on what the project meant to them and what being free means.
In the end, it was what we heard and shared, what was asked of us and what we asked that has made I’m free an ongoing collective meditation.
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