In times of increasingly dense communication networks and ties within the art world, certain practices appear which break with claims of determined authorship and instead propose alternative methods of collaboration. The artist group Atlas Economy (*2014, Frankfurt) developed a working structure in which symbiosis and parasitic relations seem to meet. For MÉLANGE, AE created a scenario that blurs the lines of ownership and artistic autonomy.
Against the backdrop of enforced professionalisation in self-marketing strategies throughout all artist generations, AE appears as an artist run enterprise, constantly seeking to expand its brand. The product is the name and the network remains unknown to outsiders. Anyone working with AE has to conceal his/her identity in favor of the AE label, and for all activities made and artworks produced during a collaboration, AE lays claim to copyright.
Pushing this idea of diverting identity into plurality and therefore interfering with strategies of accumulating value, AE created an exhibition in which the relations between artist and object, object and exhibition, exhibition and concept are at stake.
AE invited the Amsterdam/London based collective HARC-CORE (*2011) to take part, with the intention of outsourcing essential decisions that define the very outcome of the exhibition. HC assembled a programmed toolbox that takes over the role of the curator and decides upon important parameters: The toolbox will randomly select 4 artists out of 10 shortlisted works by AE, as well as decide on the arrangement within the space and the title of the show itself. All shortlisted artists vary in status. The calculated randomisation by HC diametrically opposes the concept and relevance of a curator´s work, as shifts in power and liability become evident and eventually turn against one´s own interest. Playing with that idea, a booklet on „How to make exhibitions for children“ will accompany the show.
AE´s purpose is to challenge certain economics within the art world and highlight a neglected issue: the artist´s payment. When even museums struggle to pay their artists appropriately (particularly troublesome to performative and non-object based artists), it´s evident how this precarious situation affects the artist´s independence. Bringing attention to the matter of disproportion between artistic work and economic recognition, the exhibition’s budget is primarily used for fees (200€), granted to each participating artist.
Kulturamt Stadt Köln