Aug. 27, 1996 Sep. 10, 1996

Art Watch Index - Sep. 3, 1996

The Stewart Home Exhibition
at workfortheeyetodo in London
-- Can we seriously abolish the institution called "art"
Yoshitaka MOURI

Art Watch Back Number Index

Stewart Home Exhibition
July 27 - September 7, 1996
at workfortheeyetodo
Thr-Sat 11:00am-6:00pm
51 Hanbury Street London E1
Aldgate East Tube

Stewart Home

Paintings of Vermeer

Stuart Hall index

The Art Strike as a Social Movement(?)

The Stewart Home Exhibition
at workfortheeyetodo in London
- Can we seriously abolish the institution called "art"

Yoshitaka MOURI

The exhibition unlike an exhibition

It may not be accurate to call this event, an "exhibition". The site is workfortheyetodo, a book store in Aldgate, London, known as the residential area for Indian British nationals. This store is very unusual. It only operates three days, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and even on these open days, there is no shop sign at the entrance. One must ring the bell each time for the door to be opened. It seems as if he is invited into someone's living room. Inside the store, starting with Stewart Home's books, publications by media activists, situationists, and art-related writers are stacked neatly on the shelves, and using one of the walls, 22 of Home's works in A4 size are exhibited. All his works are photocopies of Vermeer's paintings colored with fluorescent pink paint.

Recently, Stewart Home (there is a famous scholar of cultural studies called Stuart Hall whose name written in Japanese is very similar to Home, and he must not be confused with Stewart Home) is being introduced more and more by people such as Toshiya Ueno and Toshimaru Ogura. Home is a descendent of the situationists, and also is a novelist, performer, and activist. He is known as an advocate of Neoism and Plaigiarism, and was one of the core members of Art Strike, a movement that occurred between 1990 and 1993, where artistic activities were totally stopped (strike) for three years.

Dismantling the concept of art

On the desk at the entrance of the shop, there is an explanation of the exhibition. According to the writing, this exhibition sets out to dismantle the concept of "art" by criticizing the preservation/restoration of art works, and the capitalistic ideology in the art history and the history of art criticism.

Each of the works has a price tag, and as one purchases multiple works, the price of each work increases in relative serial fashion, such as one piece being £25, two pieces £100, and four pieces £400. If one buys all the works, the total is said to become £10,865,359,993,600 (about 200 trillion yen!). These works were produced in twenty minutes, there is only one original in the world per work, and in order for the product to be independent of ideology the above prices are given. The explanation writes that these reflect the de-constructivist (destructive?) intention of this exhibition.

The text of the exhibition is definitely interesting. However, would it be as interesting if we see this as a means of propaganda considered important by the situationists? Maybe this method itself has not escaped the danger of being absorbed again by art? Still, it is not safe to answer such questions just from what we see in this little exhibition space in the book store. Home, who is highly interested in information distribution as a descendent of the situationists, may not be considering this exhibition as an old style, stand-alone exhibition. Because this is truly a small exhibition, we look forward to the future challenges Home faces concerning information.

[Yoshitaka Mouri/Cultural Studies]

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Art Watch Back Number Index

Aug. 27, 1996 Sep. 10, 1996

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