2009 acts of eXchange

acts of Xchange


A proposal for an exhibition that challenges the act of exchange within cultural production. We swoon and twitter as auction prices for works of art of living artists soar. Artists successful in this market strategize how best to utilize the free market economy to suit their aggrandized needs. Yet the relationship between this phenomena and the creative imagination (not withstanding the economic reality of the lives of most cultural producers) is in fact neither implicit nor is it the rule. The embraced commoditization of the work of art, with the accompanying perception of creativity as inseparable from the production of valuable product, is I propose a concretization (or freezing up) of the space out of which one’s creativity emerges—even producing a deformation within the interiority out of which one imagines.

As we careen closer as a society to the brink of fiscal collapse, a vigorous interrogation and reassessment of the authority of the object as commodity is not only called for but necessary for a viable and inclusive cultural future. How value is ascribed and quantified when we consider not only the things that artists make but also the larger context within which that system flourishes for a select minority must be reassessed. This exhibition proposes a conscious reflection on the act of eXchange as an effective force and catalyst for agency and change.

At this time I am not giving you a complete list of works in the exhibition, nor can I tell you how the concept will inevitably take form as work is selected. The guidelines state this is not mandatory at this point. I will, however, give two examples of works that encapsulate the premise of the proposal and will serve to assist in framing the conceptual arena of the project. The first—David Hammon’s posing as a street vender offering diminishing but orderly sized snowballs placed before him on a pallet (BlizzardBallSale 1983). The second—Michael Rakowitz’s recent reestablishing of the family’s date import/export business in Iraq and the accompanying dystopic narrative (Return 2006).

The exhibition will consist of two complimentary parts. The first being the works of artists who deploy strategies that question the act of exchange in both ideas and form (as exampled above). The second will bereal world examples of Xchange deployed by non-artist actors, whose creative strategies mirror artist thinking. A real world example might be Tim De Christopher’s recent winning bids at the public auction for wilderness land tracts in Utah – a controversial last-minute action by the Bush Administration to auction off nearly 22,500 acres of pristine public land to oil and gas companies. As the highest bidder De Christopher ultimately derailed the entire process for multiple tracts of land. The creative artist-like strategy by this non-artist actor has within it the potential to initiate unexpected real world change. These will be text based narratives (hung on the wall) interspersed among the real works of art, giving an overall visual impression of a unified whole. The exhibition will provide a fluid and non-perceptual differentiation between art and non-art in considering the potential of the value of exchange once it is unhinged and freed from the status quo of top down commodity controlled economics.

A challenge to a rigid hierarchical construct of exchange is implicit to the project. Each component readjusts our perceptions of the effect of the expression of class, of multiple coexisting identities, of the relationship between economic and political boundaries and the control of flow of product but also notions of one’s personal creative survival and the implied co-dependence on a standardized hierarchy of values. In all cases the works confound tacit notions of privilege and access to power inherent within the structure of the standard marketplace — and as such they map a different path on which to proceed forward.