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Money is an abstraction. In a new concrete comedy, Dough Play transposes this abstraction into another one, harder to name.
Money is an abstraction. In a new concrete comedy, Dough Play transposes this abstraction into another one, harder to name.
27 backers pledged $1,520 to help bring this project to life.

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David Robbins talks about Dough Play with Rex Reason

RR: What's on offer here?

DR: Participatory theater, staged in accordion folds of fiction and non-fiction...

Sounds tricky.

In its effect, yes, it should be. That's why I want to do it! But the idea is simple enough: Raise 1000 dollars through the crowdfunding process then buy as much play money as these funds will purchase.

A novel kind of currency exchange...

Actually the money raised will be divided equally into three play currencies -- play dollars, play yen, play euros.

Why three?

Because Dough Play isn't "about" the dollar, as a standard. By buying three currencies the event I'm interested in manifests in three equivalent versions. Each type of play currency, together with the pitch video and a list of contributors, will go on display in its respective currency zone. Three venues -- Green Gallery, Milwaukee, and Misako & Rosen, Tokyo, along with Le Confort-Moderne, an arts institution in Poitiers, France, will present Dough Play during the same week in February 2016.

Toward what end?

Who can predict? I'm just curious to see the effect. Nothing is for sale. It's theater.

"Money makes the world go 'round..."

More than ever, it seems, money shapes thinking. Where we used to talk about movies, we now talk about the box office they did. Art is now an asset where people park money. Money concerns shape our behavior all the time. We format our imaginations to produce in order to get more of it. Good or bad, it's reality.

Money won! Money is a king.

So I do the fool's work. I divert a small amount from the flow of currency and place it in suspended animation. Money has a way of devaluing everything that isn't about money. So let's reverse that. Let's separate money from its value, and see what that feels like.

Sly. Money has become so abstract -- derivatives, hedge funds...

Is anything more abstract than money? A fluid, plastic, manipulable concept, an abstraction which, oddly, manifests much of the time as representation, pictures -- bills, coins, checks.... In a sense, with Dough Play I'm transposing one massive abstraction -- money -- into an abstraction of another sort, harder to name.

Crowdfunding usually applies money toward a clear, productive goal. Isn't what you're doing sort of a perversion of this positive impulse?

I don't think so. By this point crowdfunding has been around long enough to be transposed into a self-reflective key. It can be used as material.

You could spend your own money to do this project. Wouldn't that be simpler than engaging a mechanism to solicit support?

Inviting participants is more authentic to the connective ways in which money performs. If a group of people agree to buy in to the suspension I'm looking to engineer, the comedy deepens. It becomes a shared viewpoint, so it has more power. It becomes truer. 

So that's what I'd get for my contribution: a role in this theater?

Yes. You'd become a cast member! And contributions of fifty dollars or more also receive the equivalent amount, in play money, of your contribution, along with a signed certificate of, um, authenticity.

Another comedy of values.

You're catching on.

Risks and challenges

Every investment comes with a risk. The risk here is that we can't know in advance what a work a like Dough Play "means" or how it will be interpreted.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    All contributors have their name included on a wall text in the exhibitions.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A certificate of authenticity, designed and signed by the artist, will accompany an amount, in play money, equal to the amount contributed.

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Funding period

- (19 days)