"The Contract"

Art, Contemporary art Free
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All of the works in this excellent show are subject to the Artist’s Reserved Rights Sale and Transfer Agreement created in 1971 by art dealer Seth Siegelaub and New York lawyer Bob Projansky. The document stipulates that artists receive 15 percent of any increase in the value of their art each time it changes hands. While it’s the main focus of the exhibition, several related themes seem to be in play, most noticeably the tensions between public and private, and the dynamics of exchange.

Park McArthur, for instance, contributes the hard drive of her computer containing five years’ worth of data for which she has no backup. Cameron Rowland exhibits a table he recently purchased from a government-surplus sale, transferring the item’s ownership from the taxpayer to individual hands. Maria Eichhorn provides empty paper shopping bags to be filled with packaging from every product the gallery owner purchases during the run of the show. As of this viewing, they contained discarded boxes for Trojan rubbers, soap and a window-insulation kit. R. H. Quaytman offers a painting depicting a still from artist Andrea Fraser’s notorious 2003 video, in which she has sex with an anonymous collector who paid for the privilege.

Given that collectors are often put off by its conditions, the Projansky contract has never gained traction in the art world, though Hans Haacke, whose ripped photo of the stars on an American flag is also on view, famously insists that purchasers of his work abide by it. Still, revisiting the concept seems pertinent at a time when global sales of contemporary art reach obscene heights, even as few artists share in the profits.—Anne Doran

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