Beton7 Arts, Athens, 2016
Contemporary forms of political art face a number of issues. Firstly, the production of meaning often resorts to illustrative models of art-as-alternative news bulletins. Secondly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the production of objects in a world of heightened technological reproduction and copies. Hence: where does the radical potential of object-based lie currently, given that recent theories of the avant-garde (Boris Groys, Marc James Léger, John Roberts) advocate an abandonment of the object and a (re)turn to artistic dematerialisation? ‘Grand Tour’, addresses these issues by asking a further question: what, therefore, are the cultural implications of exhibiting work in galleries after New-Genre public art, relational art and recent participatory practices?
In the early avant-garde, the found object (readymade) questioned singular authorship by rejecting traditional craft-skills and bringing to the fore immaterial aspects of artistic labour. In ‘Grand Tour’ the 'stolen' readymade goes one step further by ‘liberating’ it from its commodified destiny within the system of civic and commercial exchange. Hence works included in Grand Detour are, not simply ‘shoplifted’, so to speak, as anti-art gestes, but rather, instances of how the deregulated or re-contextualized found object can open up critical reflection on questions of possession and power. Thus, these ‘liberated’ found objects need to be seen more properly as having been withdrawn from civic and commercial sites: businesses, health centres, political institutions, civic centres, and governmental offices.
This collection of works does not simply address socio-economic issues; but attempts to reflect on new forms of political agency in art. The methods employed are drawn from the legacy of Situationism, while breaking new ground through the employment of ‘theft’ objects as a creative mode of production. In bringing these objects into the gallery, the exhibition reveals how commodity exchange, and the life of the gallery are interdependent.