this is helpful | Exhibition In An Envelope

[about] Output from a short course in Independent Curation at Central Saint Martins, Autumn 2012. Exhibition In An Envelope looks to replace the traditional exhibition gallery space with thought space through a limited edition of individual postcards. Exploring the notions of orginality and replicar through the context of two largely identical hand produced porclain sunflower seeds both associated with the artist Ai Weiwei's 2010 Tate commission. The exhibition raises a series of important questions of the level authenticity in our contemporary culture. [see exhibition text in full below]


[exhibition text]
exhibition in an envelope
one: seeds of change

To make something new, you need to understand the old. Art reflects how people read themselves. Art is not only about physical forms, but also about human behaviors. Ai Weiwei, 2011

The era of the original, in which we have ordered ourselves for sometime, can now be argued to be drawing to a close. The cult of 'artistic invention' long upheld by galleries, collectors and museums is being fundamentally challenged by the same divisions of labour/ democratisation of the means of production that have revolutionised the wider industrialised world surrounding art. One person has the idea, the other replicates it. Whether that replication is authentic or imitation is increasingly blurred however. Forty percent of computer software in use worldwide is now illegally installed. Global economic losses from copyright infringements amount to an estimated two hundred billion dollars every year. From an economic perspective copyright abuse is the biggest crime of our age.

The front line of the relationship between original and copy, real and fake, can often be seen at its most apparent in far eastern culture. Divergent concepts of intellectual property and copyright are not only leading to derision in the art world, but also in the broader East/ West economic balance. Such complex critical differences have largely been critically or culturally undefined to date however.

The reverse of this card presents two art works, which, to all appearances, seem exact replicas. The first is one of eight million individually made sunflower seeds by the artist Ai Weiwei, exhibited at London’s Tate Modern's in 2010/12, commissioned by the artist and produced in Jingdezhen. The second is made by the same Jingdezhen artisans, from the same mould, with the same porcelain and painted with the same ink. Its existence was born from continued production post artist commission, and its acquisition made by the curator through the Chinese counterpart to EBay; Toabao. Each is now indistinguishable from each other by art expert nor scientist. These two objects raises the question what are the physical and conceptual difference between the original artwork and the copy? What does this individual case tell us about our fetishism of the art object and the commercial mechanics of the art market? Is the aura of original in fact a placebo? The answers to these questions may well provide a context for these objects to reflect something of our contemporary human behavior.

*exhibition in an envelope is the first in a series of curatorial projects by Ted Hunt, with the aim to replace a lack of physical gallery space with an intellectual thought space.