Francesco Finizio, Asaf Koriat, Elisheva Levy, Joe Scanlan, Mike E. Smith, Harald Thys and Jos de Gruyter.
Curated by Joshua Simon
3 December 2010—30 January 2011
Be my encourager. Let me down for me to restore sense. Be my denouncer, because all you need do is attempt for me to succumb. Succumb to the unexpected, to that of delightful bliss, to that of intellectual pursuit, to that of consequence - a consequence that your being commands, one you are obliged to hold.
The objective of this piece of writing is to introduce or inform. Inform on matters that you are about to encounter. Matter seems an appropriate place to start, if anything this show is about matter in its entire register.
Material, that which constitutes - there are the obvious or traditional, and then the modern and non- existent. We appear to have found a place where they manage to co-exist, one where they matter less. (Matter exists too here in its negative, the de- of material.)
Subject, that which narrates - persuades the maker to set out on a journey, and also enables the ensuing encounter with a viewer. It will hold several possibilities, yet always find its distinctive voice when met accordingly and given time. (Through the process of recognition - aesthetic and ethical - a subject is at the same time an individual standing before the work)
Question, that which reasons - query as a means for change, ones personal-political duty. A phenomenon with effect when posed and appreciated. A philosophical stance we all inhabit, and one for which art is to encourage. (Matters)
As you turn around, and make your way to the back of the gallery, a deliberate obstacle comes to mind. When contemplated, a sense of confusion and ease gather. The paradoxical nature of experience makes her stumble; luckily she landed yielding.
This exhibition is about the task inherent to the press release. Where does interpretation and engagement with text sit in relation to the experience one has with visual art? How does a curatorial practice negotiate a pre-existing press release that is handed over to act for a yet non-existent exhibition?
This press release was written by Am Nuden Da.
Click below to read Joshua Simon’s text.
When Karl Marx described commodity fetishism in Capital (1867), he mentioned that beyond its exchange and use values, the commodity has a third implied quality, or as he put it: “A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and easily understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties”.
Since the past 150 years the commodity has become the historical subject in contemporary culture. Almost every object enters the world today as a commodity and as such it feels most at home in this world (think of IKEA for example – are we furnishing our world with it, or maybe we dwell in its world?). Through various strategies of composition, appropriation and re-contextualization of different commodities, artists try to make and understand artworks today. From an assemblage of consumer products to an abstract painting, one could argue that some commodities are art objects, but all art objects are commodities. The commodity precedes the artwork. It precedes the commodification of artworks in the art market. It is the material that is in all materials. It is the basic technique of every technique, the fundamental medium of all mediums.
The commodity, this omnipresent ‘other-entity’ with which we are engaged in a network of intimacies (we eat it, we drink it, we wear it, we sit, touch it and are being touched by it, work with it, sleep in it), has been of central interest to Dada, the surrealists and pop. Investigations of the commodity on both linguistic and conceptual grounds had already begun with the shift from Picasso’s objets trouvés to Duchamp’s readymades. Today, the different strategies of dematerialization that have been articulated since the late 1960s are met with a sensibility that can be called neo-materialistic. This sensibility answers to a new economy in which symbols behave as materials (think of “real” and “fake” brands); where labor has shifted from production to consumption (tourism, TV watching and shopping for example); and by which the price element of a commodity has changed its role – from depicting the relation between commodities (supply and demand) it has become an immanent characteristic of the commodity itself (“it’s valuable because it’s expensive”).
Neo-materialism calls for new strategies – one of them being the un-readymade. Unlike the artistic strategy in which the artist, by the power vested in him, is able to turn any object into art (i.e. readymade), the un-readymade focuses on display rather than on discourse. It resembles the tactics of a hunter gatherer roaming a much more advanced civilization of commodities, which is being actualized through different modes of display.
As the premise of the exhibition format enables the examination of objects and their relations, it is a great opportunity to further the investigation of objects and commodities through this mode of display. The art exhibition, as both the narrative display of artifacts and the institutional contract of that which is called art, attempts an understanding through close contact with forms, materials, and images. One could argue, that only as art, the commodity is really itself. If historically the master-artists were characterized as having a special bond with materials and a unique understanding of forms, we realize that today their bond with-and-understanding-of commodities is what makes them master-artists in their field.
The Unreadymade brings together the work of artists that explore in very different ways the commodity as a prerequisite of every object, including the art object. The exhibition concentrates on artworks that perform their materiality as commodity. Through different presences of new-objecthood and un-readymades; examination of the living (and dead) artist as an agent of commodification; contemporary artists question the realm of art-making in the world of commodities, as a mode of being in uncertainties.