Mass MOCA, Massachusetts
Jan 29 – May 31 2005
J.S.G. Boggs, Conrad Bakker, House of Diehl, Christine Hill, General Idea, Res Ingold, Carey Young.
(North Adams, Massachusetts) – Trade Show opening at MASS MoCA on January 29, 2005, features the work of eight artists and collectives who bring the world of business into art.
In the 21st century, it is no surprise for visitors to contemporary art museums to find plenty of popular culture objects in works of art, a practice dating back to Marcel Duchamp’s “Readymades”. More recently, not only non-traditional art objects but non-traditional art activities — business practices such as network marketing, advertising, and motivational speaking — have found their way into art spaces. Trade Show highlights some of the most interesting and provocative of these practices.
Some artists in this exhibition bring the style and language of business into an art context. For example, Carey Young’s video Optimum Performance documents her 2003 intervention in the Whitechapel Gallery in London: a motivational lecture to an audience of gallery visitors using business jargon from the corporate world to discuss questions of performance. Other artists in the exhibition enter into the world of daily commerce surreptitiously through their art: Brock Enright’s kidnappings-for-hire provoke discussions about spectacle and the media while The House of Diehl’s performance of Instant Couture produces high-end fashion out of spontaneous and democratic processes. Conrad Bakker’s pyramid marketing scheme pitches a functionless product with the straight face of scam marketeering. The sale of these commodities and services comes bundled with implicit (and sometimes hilariously blatant) critiques of the business paradigms they are modeled after, challenging media, our ideas of fashion, or consumer culture in general.
Other works in the exhibition include: The Art Experience by J.S.G. Boggs who designs, draws, and spends his own currency, not deceptive counterfeits but rather creative adaptations of US bills; several pieces by General Idea including FILE Megazine which was both a vehicle for taking control of their own media coverage, as well as a networking tool for a broader communities of artists; Christine Hill’s The Volksboutique Care Package, a subscription-based service whose recipient receives a customized selection of items delivered in a jewel box case; and Corporate Sponsorship by Ingold Airlines by Res Ingold, a fictional company and art project which exists in the form of a wide variety of airline paraphernalia: from ads to baggage ID tags and packing tape festooned with his red logo. For Trade Show, Ingold Airlines participates as the exhibition’s corporate sponsor, because, as Ingold points out, “the airline has been looking to expand its American clientele.”
The art may be all about commerce but the catalogue is free and will be available for download at www.massmoca.org <http://www.massmoca.org/> beginning with the opening of Trade Show on January 29. The catalogue includes images of many of the works in the exhibition plus essays by art critic and historian Martha Buskirk, architectural historian Mario Carpo, and philosopher and Williams College Professor of Religion and Architecture Mark Taylor. Also in conjunction with the exhibition, the House of Diehl will perform their freewheeling fashion show Instant Couture on April 9, 2005, at 8pm in MASS MoCA’s Club B10. Tickets for this event are $13 in advance and $16 day of show and are available from the box office at 413.662.2111 or online at www.massmoca.org. The ticket price includes admission to Trade Show between 6:30 and 7:30 PM.
Organized by Rebecca Uchill, an intern from the Williams College-Clark Art Institute Graduate Program in the History of Art, the exhibition is part of the continuing series of MASS MoCA exhibitions presented in collaboration with the Clark Art Institute in support of MASS MoCA and the Williams/Clark Graduate program in the History of Art. The Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute has been placing interns from its graduate art program in the curatorial department at MASS MoCA since well before MASS MoCA opened. “Clark graduate students continue to organize some of our most thoughtful, quirky and beautiful exhibitions: Rebecca’s exhibition joins a long and distinguished list. We enjoy this program immensely, as do our visitors, and we would once again like to thank the generosity of the Clark Art Institute, and particularly Michael Conforti, for sustaining this work,” said Joseph Thompson, director of MASS MoCA.
MASS MoCA is the USA’s largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts and is located in North Adams, Massachusetts, on a restored 19th-century factory campus. MASS MoCA’s galleries are open 11 – 5 every day except Tuesdays. Gallery admission is $10 for adults, $4 for children 6 – 16, and free for children under 6. Members admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413 662 2111 or visit www.massmoca.org.