Exchange Rate: 2008

Exchange Rate: 2008 was an international performance exchange organized by Elana Mann leading up to the 2008 US presidential election. In all thirty-eight artists from sixteen different countries participated in the project. Mann also contributed artwork. With the aid of the website, participating artists produced exchanged and interpreted performance directions related to the election campaign. These actions took place in public spaces all over the globe, from the street of Seoul, South Korea to the alleys of Tel Aviv, Israel. The artworks produced for the exchange mirrored and challenged the pageantry displayed in the mass media as part of the presidential race. Exchange Rate: 2008 also added an alternative critical voice to the blogs, websites and virtual networks that emerged in 2008 as the most influential arena in the US presidential election.

A video with short clips of various performances from the project Exchange Rate: 2008.

To view the complete online project please visit:

Participants in the exchange acknowledged the significance of the election and sought ways to process, collaborate and examine the historic moment. Artist participants lived in Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, Israel, Lithuania, Mexico, Nicaragua, Portugal, Scotland, South Korea, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the USA. Each participating artist submitted performance directions (in the form of text, video, image, etc.) for an international colleague to perform. Subsequently, the participants selected a set of performance directions to interpret and perform. Various projects were featured in Minneapolis during the Republican National Convention as part of The Unconvention ( and projects were also be showcased during live events in Los Angeles from October through November 4th.

On November 4th, Exchange Rate: 2008, in partnership with Trade&Row’s Campaign Trial: The Election in Action series, produced a grand evening full of performative punditry, raucous referendums and live coverage of election night activities world-wide. The contemporary use of performance directions recalls Fluxus scores, Happenings and mail art of the 1950’s-70’s, but contains present day reverberations of mass communication and social networking through emails, text-messaging, blogs, video streaming, etc. As the world watched US citizens elect a new leader through the mass media, a local and international audience watched artists exchange and perform in response to the election campaigns. This series of performances engaged and affected this seemingly impenetrable stage of the international political arena.

“Exchange Rate: 2008 was meant to provide a platform for a different set of concerns about this election. It was structured to generate conversation and collaboration among artists around the globe. My hope was that it would provide an opportunity for a deepening and widening of the conversation about the election than the one playing out in the mainstream media coverage.” -Elana Mann

Exchange Rate: 2008 was made possible in part from generous funding from Trade & Row, Company Wide Shut, Chesed v’Tov Foundation, Side Street Projects, and GYST Ink.

Adam Overton, November 4, 2008 at the Exchange Rate: 2008 event in Los Angeles, interpreted performance directions entitled "EXIT STRATEGIES" by Liz Glynn (photo credit: Vivian Babuts, Mark So, spotter for the performance (making sure the artist didn't pass out)
Eva Jung, A Latex Space Made of Used Air, November 3, 9pm, at the CUNY graduate gallery, 365 Fifth Ave, New York City, NY as part of the Habeas Index organized by Linda Pollack, interpreted a a performance by Adam Overton entitled FOR WOODWINDS (Tonglen Variations).
Ana Fernandez, October 9, 2008, 11am at the Plaza de la Independencia in Quito, Ecuador, interpreted performance directions by Jason Kunke entitled "Political Speech for a Hydra/Discurso para un pulpo."
Michael Lazar and Mark Lewis, Sunday, Oct. 19, morning, Tel Aviv, Israel, interpreted performance directions by Danielle Adair, For Which It Stands (photo and video credit: Linda Rosenthal Nathanson)
Melissa Wyman, October 13, 2pm, performed in Hongdea area Seoul, South Korea, interpreted performance directions by Vincent Ramos, WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT BEHAVIOR, and SEARCHIN' (photo credit: Yang Youn-Hwa)
Jason Kunke, November 4, 2008 at the Exchange Rate: 2008 event in Los Angeles, interpreted “Ammunation Script” by Emery Martin (photo credit: Vivian Babuts)
Maile colbert and Rui Costa, September 6, 2008, at their home outside of Lisbon, Portugal interpreted performance directions by Adam Overton entitled FOR WOODWINDS (MEDITATIONS)
Sibyl O’Malley, at the Nov. 4 Exchange Rate election night event in Los Angeles, presented a puppet show of her script “Bull,” directed by Caitlin Lainoff with sound design by Kari Rae Seekins
screen-shot from project website
November 4, 2008 election night event in Los Angeles, CA, USA, (photo credit: Vivian Babuts)
November 4, 2008 election night event in Los Angeles, CA, USA (photo credit: Vivian Babuts)
Elana Mann, November 5, 2008 in Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA, interpreted performance directions by Ernesto Salmeron