press release

To what extent can art be considered as “capital”, becoming a mirror of the general economic situation, and a thermometer of current trends?

This is just one of the questions that will be raised at “L’impresa dell’arte” (The Enterprise of Art), the first of a new thematic cycle of events curated by Julia Draganovic and dedicated to the “A COMMON ASSET” exhibition, at PAN|Palazzo Delle Arti Napoli, from the 16th of May until the 30th of June 2008.

“The Art Enterprise” investigates the relationship between art and economy in a period where auctions and contemporary art fairs register new record prices almost every month, leading us to consider the equation of “art enterprise = art market, a principle that is far too often taken for granted.

These reflections begin with Naples, where, despite the presence of numerous galleries and collectors of international fame, very few people are actually aware of the immense profits that the sale of artworks can actually generate.

We are in the city where Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol, two key protagonists of twentieth-century art, met 28 years ago. In their own manner, these artists caused a radical change in the relationship between the production of artworks and the economy.

Both reflected on the condition of art production: Warhol standardised the concept of art through the serial production of silk-screen prints which underlined the centrality of the work; whereas, Beuys reflected on the underlying conditions of the free market, with the objective of radically changing it, focusing on the role of the artist and art in society because, as he sustained: “every human being is an artist”.

These two apparently incompatible perspectives are the inspiration for the reflections of the contemporary artists at “L’impresa dell’arte” (The Enterprise of Art), who openly continue and draw inspiration from the research that these two masters began.

Amongst the works on show is Danica Phelps’s visual diary of expenses and earnings, Christian Jankowski’s brave decision to increase his catalogue budget by “investing” the money in the casino; the Iniziativa Centesimo Avanzato (the "Leftover Penny" Initiative) installation by Susanne Bosch that proposes a collective fund raising operation to realise the projects and dreams of the citizens, while the growth index of stocks and shares are the central focus of the works by Claude Closky. While the visionary Nikeplatz project animates the space, the at times grotesque and bizarre value of the concept of property are the inspiration behind Guy Ben-Ner videos. Shu Lea Cheang presents an allegory to the art market, creating an economic system based on the valorisation of garlic, and the German group Finger proposes bee-keeping as an alternative source of income for the citizens of Naples .

And amongst others: the Maid in Southafrica video by Steven Cohen demonstrates the power of money over the human soul. The very same theme has been developed from a postfordist viewpoint, in the performance by Santiago Sierra; the French artists Jean-Baptiste Ganne presents a photographic study, illustrating and questioning the theories of Karl Marx, the installation of sweets by Felix Gonzalez-Torres invites us to reflect on our (in)finite resources and on the concept of democratic interaction between the public and works of art. With the Net Art GWEI-Google Will Eat Itself project, Alessandro Ludovico, Paolo Cirio and UBERMORGEN.COM make the Google portal freely available to the public, Sarah Morris presents a portrait of American “capital”, and Tadej Pogacar offers us his photographic image archive, based on the concept of “informal economy” or the alternative market, which he documented while travelling around the world.

With:, Guy Ben-Ner, Susanne Bosch, Shu Lea Cheang, Claude Closky, Steven Cohen, Yevgeniy Fiks, Finger, Jean-Baptiste Ganne, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Christian Jankowski, Alessandro Ludovico – Paolo Cirio – UBERMORGEN.COM, Sarah Morris, Danica Phelps, Tadej Pogacar, Roxy in the box, Santiago Sierra

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The Enterprise of Art / L’impresa dell’arte
Kurator: Julia Draganovic

mit, Guy Ben-Ner, Susanne Bosch, Shu Lea Cheang, Claude Closky, Steven Cohen, Yevgeniy Fiks, finger , Jean-Baptiste Ganne, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Christian Jankowski, UBERMORGEN.COM  / Paolo Cirio / Alessandro Ludovico, Sarah Morris, Danica Phelps, Tadej Pogacar & P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E., Roxy in the box , Santiago Sierra