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Altruism in Art-Making with The Artists Company

Exhibition opinion & photography by Marcus Cheong

Over seven days participants were invited to alternative art space, 
Your Mother Gallery to take part in Got Your Name Or Not, a research project conducted by The Artists Company.

Altruism in Art-Making with The Artists Company

by SAND Magazine

June 17, 2018

A timecard provided for participants to log their hours (photo: The Artists Company)

The project aimed to create an altruistic model of art making where:

“Everyone is an artist, and the work belongs to everybody”

The Artists Company raised the following questions:

  1. Does an altruistic model in art-making exist – where everyone is an artist and the work belongs to everybody?
  2. When two or more people are given the artistic license to decide where the work is going, how should they come to a consensus?
  3. Does an artwork need to be tagged to an author?
  4. When will a piece of work be considered complete?
  5. Will an artwork ever be complete?

On large pieces of paper on the walls of the gallery, the participants answered each  question with their own points of view.

Chart showing the hours collated to measure profits against time

In an effort to represent
time as currency, The Artists Company required each participant to log their hours spent at the gallery by punching in and out with a timecard. The hours were then collated to measure profits against time.

Participants working with cement to create artworks

Cement was provided to the participants for them to create works with, along with other materials ranging from wire mesh to thread. The Artists Company explains,

cement is a binder, a substance used for construction that sets, hardens and adheres to other materials, binding them together. Cement is seldom used on its own, but rather to bind sand and gravel (aggregate) together.”

Participants were encouraged to work with others to explore what it meant to co-own an artwork and how those dynamics played out. The artworks in the exhibition were not attached to any of the creators in order to expel the heaviness that usually comes along with being associated with any piece of work. It provided one with an alternative perspective to see an artwork for what it is instead of being swayed by the name that comes along with it.

Got Your Name Or Not blurred the line between the role of an audience and participant by using each person's time and work as part of the study. It called for the viewer not just to spectate but also be part of the experience in creating. The participants started by creating artworks and providing data for The Artists Company to collect and collate, at the same time questioning and delving into the issues that the project presented—the primary job for an audience of any exhibition.

‘Your Mother Gallery’ during the exhibition

My time at Got Your Name Or Not did not feel like a conventional exhibition. Rather, I felt like I was doing more than just viewing. The Artists Company stated very clearly what they were trying to achieve — that I, the viewer, was subjected to being a part of the exhibition too. The questions raised were ideas that were largely ignored or overlooked in any other circumstance. These were lingering thought processes existing in the background of every artistic endeavour. 

Performance art and cement door gifts during the day of artists dialogue

The project allowed for the consideration of a few questions:

Do we value art based on the intensity of labour or the weight of the creator’s name?

What are we truly looking for when we price artworks? Why do we value the original more than the print if they are both exactly the same and present the same feelings or questions that the artist had set out to present in his or her concept? It feels like people are so concerned with the intangible feeling of owning something that isn’t just a replica.

Is it important for people to be credited for their work even if their primary goal isn’t to get their name out into the open?

If I am publishing a book with an aim to raise awareness about mental illness, why is it so important to place my name on it? While I understand possessive tendencies of artists over a work that's being created, I also question — what happens when the goal isn’t commercial and sets itself as more of a need to benefit surrounding individuals? Why are we still so obsessed with having our name on our art?

Is there such a thing as a perfect compromise?

As of June 2018, the world is filled with 7.6 billion individuals. Each of those people has their own views on how to go about getting something done – whether it be religion, politics or the question of 'racial harmony'.  Is there, and should draw the line between satisfaction and discontent with every decision we make in our lives?

More art and observations here


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