The Book Trust, a site-specific publication and installation, was originally presented at the NY Art Book Fair, 5–7 November, 2010. During those days, the semi-fictional Investment Futures Strategy, Ltd., comprised of five graduate students from the Department of Graphic Design at the Yale University School of Art, offered an original publication for trade in a series of barters executed by its authors.
The Trust and the accompanying Book Trust Prospectus address matters of micro-economy and distribution, as well as prescribed versus perceived value. The project suggests a new currency specific to the setting of the Book Fair, a context in which a distinct set of commodities is exchanged by like-minded vendors in a finite space and time. It is only in this setting that a book could be posited as capital—a literal stand-in for the money that commonly exchanges hands at the Fair. Perceived worth is thus no longer dictated by edition or price, but instead by a trader’s subjective notion of the values they assign each book.
Over the three days of the Fair, the book, produced in a fixed quantity of 500, varied in value as each negotiation determined and redetermined its worth in the marketplace. With each transaction, the Prospectus assumed the value of the book for which it was exchanged. The traded commodities now comprise The Book Trust—a value-appreciating book bank. By trading with IFS, Ltd., participants acquired a single theoretical share of the bank, the Prospectus acting as a document of that transaction. In framing the project in a format similar to that of a stock exchange, IFS, Ltd. hopes that the Trust emphasizes the tenuous, abstract value of the book: as a designed object, as a medium for content, as a traded commodity, and as a symbol of participation in the project itself.
IFS, Ltd. has extended its trading period through November 29, 2010 at its New York branch on the 1ST Floor of MoMA PS1. The Trust will remain at the museum as IFS, Ltd. assesses and catalogues its contents. Accordingly, IFS, Ltd. invites you to bring a book to exchange with one of our on-site representatives, thus formalising your status as a Shareholder in the Trust. Upon the installation’s closure, IFS, Ltd. intends to circulate the Trust’s holdings in appropriate domestic and international venues, at which point new editions of the Prospectus may be issued in context-specific reenactments of the initial trading period. Any party interested in hosting the Trust should not hesitate to be in touch.