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THE READYMADE BROUGHT TO BOOK
The first part of my contribution to the Form Content exhibition Misty Boundaries is a sculpture comprising 72 copies of my novel Down & Out In Shoreditch & Hoxton (2004) in factory wrapped packets containing 24 books each. The plastic wrapped bundles of books are placed one on top of the other. The work is entitled The One and The Many (2010) and resonates with both Duchamp's readymades including Fountain (1917) and Bicycle Wheel (1913), as well as later works such as Carl Andre's Equivalent VIII (1966). Like Duchamp and Andre, I am interested in transformation, and in the ways in which such transformations provoke aesthetic responses.
With The One And The Many I'm foregrounding the role of the market in transforming everyday objects into works of art. Each of the 72 books that make up my sculpture has an individual cover price of £7.99 and thus a total retail value of £575.28. During the course of the Misty Boundaries show I'm offering The One And The Many for sale at the bargain basement tag of £383.52, in other words, with the standard shop discount of one third off their retail value. A purchaser of the work might destroy the sculpture by tearing open the plastic wrappings in which the books have been packaged and make an immediate profit by selling them individually for their retail value. On the other hand, a buyer may choose to speculate on the sculpture's ongoing value as a work of art and preserve it as it is in the belief that in the long term this is the best way of realising the greatest profit from the purchase; or, even, simply because they like it as an aesthetic object. As an art work The One And The Many is unique, and I will not remake the piece unless someone both buys it and breaks it up with the aim of realising an instant profit. During the show it will also be possible to buy individual copies of Down & Out In Shoreditch & Hoxton at Form Content for £7.99.
On 25 March 2010 between 6 and 9pm I will perform an action - The Shoreditch Shredding Machine Massacre 2: Ridley Road Variation - during which I further explore the possibilities for the aesthetic transformation of my book Down & Out In Shoreditch & Hoxton. I will shred a copy of my novel. The model of shredder I will be using is not designed for continuous shredding and so there is a possibility it will break down before I finish shredding my book. The resulting sculpture will be left on display for the remainder of the exhibition as Shredded Book and offered for sale in pieces inside the shredding machine for £1000. Shredded Book will exist as a series of 10 unique works numbered 1 to 10 (with two artists' proofs), all comprising a copy of Down & Out In Shoreditch and Hoxton shredded and left inside a shredding machine. No two copies of Down & Out In Shoreditch & Hoxton will shred in exactly the same way, and therefore there will be subtle differences between each piece in the Shredded Book series.
While Shredded Book might be seen as an updating of the work of John Latham, it simultaneously harks back to one of my contributions to the 1986 collaborative exhibition Ruins of Glamour at Chisenhale Gallery where I placed dozens of copies of an Air Gallery catalogue that I'd partially burnt on top of coke spread across the gallery floor. The pricing of my works in the MIsty Boundaries show continues interests apparent in other pieces I've done that were designed to foreground the role of the market in the creation of art- and in particular the Vermeer II exhibition at workfortheeyetodo in 1996, where for every additional picture a collector wish to purchase the asking price for my works was multiplied by 4 (so that one picture cost £25, two pictures £100, three pictures £400 etc. - more or less the opposite of supermarket BOGOF offers).
London Art Tripping (psychogeography of 50 years of bohemianism)
Andre Stitt (live art and shamanism)
How To Improve The World (Hayward show of Arts Council Collection)
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