Free things

Palin, Tom (2015) Free things. [Show/Exhibition]

Abstract

Free Things was a project devised and curated by Jack Fisher. The works were presented in a collective exchange-type setting, where each artwork “awaited ownership”, being free to be taken away in exchange for another object to be left to take its place. With this exhibition Fisher set out to consider the value of art as commodity, as well as the interconnectivity of social media; the participants were selected through Fisher’s Facebook friends list and orchestrated primarily through Facebook Messenger. Over the course of the exhibition the nature and configuration of objects necessarily altered, which brought with it the sense of a curatorial fluidity, wherein to participate in Fisher’s exchange meant to involve oneself in respect of the determination of the exhibition’s meaning. For my part, my work was not included in the initial line-up. After attending the opening, I returned the following day and exchanged three small paintings on oak for two 3D-printed animal skulls (reproduced here) and a work on paper. What interested me most was the sense of involvement in a pre-determined game, and also the seeming dissolution of the division between spectator, exhibitor and curator. Moreover, I have a longstanding interest in the notion of the work as a unit or package of latent meaning, and in the configuration and reconfiguration of works in respect of each other, and also in respect of the environment or clearing in which they find themselves active. Fisher’s exhibition allowed me to engage with a number of ideas that would later work themselves to the forefront of my thinking in the latter part of my practice-led PhD. Also, it was this exhibition that influenced my decision (taken with Richard Baker) to invite Fisher to curate what became Painting Fo’Show!, at Lady Beck in 2016.

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