The Sharing Project is a series of written stories, an art installation, and a 29 minute film by Joel Tauber that explores the meaning of sharing. It’s a topic that Joel and his young son Zeke find to be incredibly complex and confusing.
Tauber wonders: What does sharing mean, exactly? Are there different kinds of sharing? If so, what are they? How do we figure out how much we should share – or when we should share? Can we find answers within any particular philosophical framework? What can our pedagogical, cultural, and political institutions teach us? Do they prioritize the value of sharing? If they do, why is there so much poverty in this very rich country? Why is there so much inequity?
Zeke sums things up, quite powerfully and succinctly, as he declares: It’s hard to share, while also meeting that challenge repeatedly, consistently sharing much more easily and generously than Joel does. Zeke’s behavior challenges Joel and his assumptions significantly, raising many more questions.
Seeking answers, Tauber interviews experts in a wide range of disciplines, including: philosophy, psychology, history, anthropology, and evolutionary biology. He does not anticipate that any of these fields will supply full answers; but he hopes that they will bring him closer to the truth about sharing, and that things might start making a little more sense – for him and then hopefully for Zeke, as well.
Joel and Zeke then turn to the forgotten Socialist commune of Happyville (1905-1908) in South Carolina, where 50 Jews from New York once lived. Joel is not sure if he could ever share all his possessions like they once did, and he’s fully aware of why many people have reservations about Socialism. Yet, as a Jewish guy who also moved from the Big City to the Carolinas, he feels a lot of kinship with the Utopia Seekers of Happyville. And, he senses that they could teach him and Zeke a lot about sharing. While it’s too late to speak to them, Tauber hopes that the landscape of Happyville, which had once inspired the Utopia Dreamers, might also inspire him and Zeke – reminding them that we’re all connected to the Land, and therefore each other; and that sharing is an ideal worth striving for.
Funding for The Sharing Project has been generously provided by Wake Forest University and The Andy Warhol Foundation For The Visual Arts via The Grand Central Art Center.