10am – 1pm and 2:30pm – 7pm
Claire Fontaine’s Your Money and Your Life is a new version of a previous exhibition with the same title held at Palazzo Ducale in Genoa during spring 2019. New and old works revolving around value, profit, the objectification of human beings and private property, entertain a lively dialogue with each other and within the space of Galeria Av. da Índia.
“Your money or your life!!” was in the past the cry of the brigands, nowadays capitalism requires both: our cash and our time, our relational capacity constantly mobilised and our adaptability to endure more and more precarious living conditions. Departing from the standpoint that contemporary political violence requires creative responses, Claire Fontaine proposes ways of resisting to our commodified and toxic environment.
A site-specific installation, Newsfloor (Público), 2019 whose function is to alter the white cube by pasting recent copies of a national newspaper onto the floor, runs through the show. The presence of the printed matter in the space forces the artworks into proximity and dialogue with images and words that they are disconnected from, creating at the same time a precarious viewing environment that evokes a building site or an unfinished installation.
Situations, a video from 2012, hijacks an existing tutorial for self-defence, where gradually protecting oneself turns into attacking and destroying the other. Intended as a metaphor of the struggle for balance in contemporary society and America in particular, the video also functions at an instructional level as a leakage of information on street fighting techniques that can be potentially applied by anyone on anybody else.
The four Living Statues are “performing objects”: objects pretending to be subjects pretending to be objects. Inspired by the acts of performers in urban touristic sites, they portray creative beggars objectifying themselves in order to be noticed, competing with a landscape of noticeable architectural artefacts. By obliterating their humanity and transforming themselves into “things” they achieve a metonymy whose symbolic meaning hasn’t yet been fully explored: the unease that possesses us in their presence might come from that. In order to achieve a more spectacular artifice some of these street artists suspend themselves on invisible armatures and appear to float. One of them tucks himself into his shirt, becoming disturbingly headless.
Claire Fontaine’s creative strategy, half way between piracy and appropriation, is conceived by the artist as a form of restitution, the attribution of a different use value to the artworks that she quotes and transforms. The two light-boxes titled Untitled (pubblicità pubblicità!) (2015) display – on the right-hand side – the italian version of iconic artist Philippe Thomas’s poster for his agency called “ready-mades belong to everyone”, whose aim was to sell to collectors the actual authorship of the artworks they bought. On the other light-box a text by Claire Fontaine, placed below fictional female artists’ catalogues, calls for a feminist creative rebellion that will empower and transform us, reducing the gap between artists and non-artists. The postcards, Untitled (L.G.B.T.Q./ L.G.B.T.Q. shaved) (2017) and #MeToo (Déjeuner sur l´herbe) and #MeToo (Olympia) (2018), are playful critiques to art history and its criteria. They question our own desires and the way authors and their authority influence them.
Untitled (Naked after beating) and Untitled (They sexually harass and torture, then photograph and publish) (2018) display two obscure masterpieces drawn by Yemeni prisoners desperate to share the details of their persecution on two light-boxes; the cracks of the phone have become an integral part of the picture. Irreparability is at the core of these works and the darkness that surrounds the vivid drawings is a reminder that those who made them live and suffer off-line, far away from our eyes, our cracked phone screens and our scrolling fingers.