The chips are down for 16 artists in an exhibition taking place at The Rag Factory this December. In an unusual twist on the debate over the value of art, participating artists will stake their work against collectors, curators and each other in a series of after hours" poker sessions in a constantly shifting microcosm of the art market.
The A.R.T. Organisation presents Alternative Risk Transfer
, an Art Casino where risky behaviours are given free rein in Londons East End. Curated by London based artist Eugene Perera in collaboration with Eiko Honda and Christopher Thomas, the exhibition features work from 16 selected artists exploring the matrix of chance, skill and risk-taking arranged on 2 floors of The Rag Factory near Brick Lane.
Downstairs, the exhibition will include Britains most notorious performance artist, Mark McGowan, inviting participants to enter a booth in which they are asked to take a risk in front of a video camera attached to a monitor outside. Simon Foxalls jurassic painting will teeter on the brink of representation while Christopher Thomas confrontational imagemaking will engage head-on with the politics of the exhibition itself. In an exploration of physical limitation, Yuki Higashino will sing himself to exhaustion on a daily basis while Taiwanese graffiti artist The Big Other will challenge global institutions to stick their necks above the parapet and define what is democracy?
Other participating artists include E A Byrne, Elena Cecchinato, Ali Eisa, Patrick Goddard, Catharine Harrington, Jari Kennedy, Jamie Lau, Oliver MacDonald, Stimulus Ltd and Scott Schwager. Works will range across sculpture, painting, photography, performance and video in an environment where visitors are encouraged to interact and test their nerve.
Upstairs within a gambling den installation created by Eugene Perera, the 16 participating artists will stake their art in a series of late night poker games, in which collectors can potentially acquire the works. Artists will be able to sell their work, depending on their negotiation of the game, while collectors play poker to improve their market position and buying power. Though there will be winners, there will also be losers: collectors who lose their financial stake and artists who realise no value for their work.
The remnants from the night's play will form an evolving installation, which includes recorded conversations from the game, representations of the work being staked and betting shop style documentation of the twists and turns of the game.
All artworks will be assessed by a Valuation Committee prior to the exhibition to assign a guide price for which they will receive betting chips for the poker game. The price will be set through an assessment of critical, aesthetic and symbolic value and how this might relate to financial value. The value of work is expected to fluctuate once it has entered the game in accordance with the highs and lows of players positioning.
Through playing the poker game, Alternative Risk Transfer wishes to initiate reflection on the nature of value, commodification and risk-taking in art practice and how artists and collectors seek to position themselves in the market. In what ways do artists take on or transfer risk in their practice and interaction with the art market? What is at stake in a work? What is the role of chance in the creative process? How do we function in an uncertain environment where there are dangers beyond our control?