Liste - Review
Demand and Supply
Cordially Magazine interviews Jeremy Hutchison
A gallerist invites an artist to create work for an art fair. In turn, the artist invites a collector to create the work. The collector instructs the artist to prepare a series of large white lacquered canvases. These must then be given to Occupy activists, who are invited to work on the canvases as they see fit. They are provided with aerosol paint: blue, black and red. At the fair, the artist is instructed to play the role of gallerist.
Q: Historically, the word ‘exhibition’ has been used to refer to the public display of anything, including art. With the expansion of the global art market and the biennial culture, the length of (gallery) exhibitions has increased from a couple of days to a few months, whereas the preparation or research period has, in its turn, decreased. How will the question of temporality affected your practice as an artist in relation to your presentation at Liste?
A: I do not draw a distinction between making and exhibiting. In my practice, these occupy a single process: research, production and exhibition operate in perpetual circuitry. The production process is the work. Public display is research. It’s impossible to say where production ends.
A: The project I’m showing at Liste is emblematic of this approach. I outsourced my creative process to a banker/art collector. He decided to create a series of white canvases. He has outsourced the content of these canvases to a group of Occupy-activists: they are given free rein with them. These canvases will then be taken to Liste where –on the collectors instructions– I must attempt to sell them, as a gallerist. The work is therefore a complex performance of multiple chapters, rather than a binary process of studio production and gallery display.
A: I find this question of temporality of critical importance. As we know, our lives have accelerated to fiber-optic speed. Time has shrunk. Consequentially, artists have been forced to adopt a position of mechanical efficiency. We have to juggle six projects at once. We have to partition our minds like harddrives. Undeniably, these conditions have affected my concerns as an artist. I have become a producer: an axis between various nodes of a communicative process.
Q: How do you see the space in relation to your artwork? Thinking about the different spaces your work might be shown, such as museums, galleries, but also homes or fairs: do you consider them just something functional, or as something that might become a support to your work? and if so how?
A: Space is never just functional. It has enormous symbolic value. A booth at Liste does not simply represent chipboard walls with a coat of white paint: it provides very specific socioeconomic conditions for the work. I think these issues must always be acknowledged in the work. I am also interested in market assimilation. It presents opportunities that are dangerous and complex. At Liste, I want to see what happens when anti-capitalist protest is plunged into the frenzy of this marketplace. How does an art fair inform the legibility of the Occupy (anti)agenda? Can authentic politics remain intact?
Q: How does your work interact with the public, and how does this influence your practice?
A: I am a social being. The words I speak are learned, not innate. My thoughts emerge in relation to the world: its codes, economies, institutions, logic. Without these, work could not possibly exist. I find it impossible to claim ultimate authorship for my work: it emerges through these social systems. In a post-industrial economy, we are regularly confronted by the problem of authorship. And I believe this is among the most pressing questions we face in the 21st century. Who is the author of your iPhone? The person that made it? The person that designed it? The developer that identified the gap in the market? Or perhaps – ultimately – the consumer. Me and you.The project I am presenting at Liste investigates this question, by inserting it into the specific context of the art market. As the title suggests, Demand and Supply is an inquiry into the art market as the ultimate author of the work.
Q: The interview, once published, hopefully gives an insight into your practice as an artist. What do you believe such an insight has to offer, also considering that you are being interviewed in preparation for an art fair? Is the art market premised on the idea of artists not speaking or, perhaps, only speaking though their work?
A: I think it is futile to attempt to control the reading of my work. However, I must also assume responsibility for it. Rather than concealing my hand, I try to be generous, to offer a positionality. But I am also conscious that my opinion is another opinion: more noise. And art fairs are already among the noisiest places on earth.
To answer your question: should the artist say nothing? Is the art market premised on any ideas? I don’t believe it is. The art market is an organism, the material expression of a deregulated economy. If anything, the art market is an institution premised on one rule: the perpetual subversion of its own rules.
Q: In 1977, the gallerist Paul Maenz issued a publication titled Was Erwartest du?, asking a few of the artists he had been working together (Terry Atkinson, Michael Baldwin, Daniel Buren, Voctr Burgin, Hans Haacke, Joseph Kosuth, Mel Ramsden) only one question: “What do expect - ideologically, commercially, technically - from an art gallery functioning within the current cultural/economic structure?”
A: Artwork produces meaning in its interaction with the world: its context, its audience, its theoretical frame. I consider an art gallery to be a stage in the production process. So I expect the gallery to provide the most productive possible conditions for my work.
Art Basel assembles the highest concentration of the 1% on the planet. According to the collector who’s collaborating with me on this project, “When your plane lands at Basel, you have to circle for an hour, waiting for all the private jets before you to land.” I expect the gallery to facilitate an interaction with these conditions. I think work functions in its relationship to reality. That’s how work works.