Taking its name from the local urban highway, State Route 55, Trade Route 55 was a public art project for MoreArt Public Art show, 2018 in collaboration with Kate Davis.
By establishing a localized, contemporary trade route along the Upfield line public transport and cycling paths, the project connected the North and South of the Moreland area through an idiosyncratic trading system.
Today, globalised digital systems mean that we are more connected than ever, however the transnational spaces we occupy can prevent rich local networks from being nurtured. This situation is amplified by gentrification, which is being fuelled by Melbourne’s population boom. In response, ‘Trade Route 55’ enacted a social intervention inspired by Professor Gene Sharp’s ‘198 Methods of Nonviolent Action’, specifically item 180, by creating an ‘Alternative Communication System’.
Colourful Trading Boxes located at Anstey and Gowrie stations, on the Upfield line, initially invited the people of Moreland to deposit items, such as personal objects, spices, poems, drawings, music, jewellery, crafts and artifacts. During MoreART these Trading Boxes were physically swapped through a ritualized public performance. Local people could then take home an article of their choosing.
Trade Route 55 also took part in MoreArt’s ‘Parktopia’ project. Trading tents were set up where local school children made objects to trade with recycled materials. Children could also trade a joke, a song, a skill or a secret.