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Jibette

Submitted by on October 2, 2011 – 10:01 amNo Comment

Objects gilded in gold.Participating in ‘Everything Must Go’ was both fun and thought-provoking. ‘Everything Must Go’ was an art project commissioned by the Manchester Chinese Arts Centre situated on Thomas Street. The project aimed to bring an awareness of value based on the notion of the amount of labour needed to create the object and the Marxist concept of ‘surplus value’. The artist group ‘Foreign Investment’ carried out the project asking Mancunians to become suppliers, producers and investors. You became a supplier by donating an unwanted object, made in China, no bigger than a football and hard surfaced. I donated a plug, not a bath plug an electric plug.

The project questioned and challenged the established systems of commerce and exchange by disrupting them with generosity.

Hundreds of outmoded, redundant, discarded and neglected objects were handed over to the volunteers at the Chinese Art Centre. ‘Foreign Investment’ engaged with local people to ‘upgrade’ discarded items by covering the object in gold leaf. This skilful and delicate production process gave the obsolete gizmos a new lease of life under the aegis of ‘objets d’art’.

The curios went on sale to complete the cycle of supplier, producer and finally investor. The price of the object covered the cost of materials and labour, workers being paid the minimum wage. Exposing the ludicrously pitiful income of many UK workers.

However, there was a twist in the tail, you couldn’t just turn up and buy back your plug, that wouldn’t have been art. All the gold-gilded items were laid out on display, and on the wall was a sequence of numbers with amounts next to them. So that if you wanted to spend £4.37 and number 72 was £4.37 you handed over your money and a young person gave you the object numbered 72. The number was hidden, so object 72 could be a toy gun, a Barbie doll, a model horse or a wooden spoon, you wouldn’t know till you got it. Obviously I wanted my plug back. But how to get it? Being an FC fan and therefore a renowned jibber, jibbing the art world wasn’t that difficult. A close acquaintance stealthfully slipped into the Chinese Art Centre and recorded the number of my plug. Then, with no concern to their own safety, texted me the number ’98′. I was able to ask for number 98, and hand over my money knowing I was about to receive my golden plug. My plug had become a work of art and to prove it I have a certificate of authentication that says this plug is art, so it had got to be art.

The Dadaists would have been proud of this Manchester art project. The Dadaists, like all great artists, rebelled, they rebelled against the barbarism of the First World War. Dada was officially not a movement, they were not artists and their art was not art. One of the first pieces of Dada non-art was the ‘Bicycle Wheel’ which was made up of a wheel mounted on the seat of a stool, by Marcel Duchamp. They used every public forum they could to spit on nationalism, rationalism, materialism and anything else they felt contributed to a senseless war. They thrust mild obscenities, scatological humour, visual puns and everyday objects renamed as art into the public eye. Their most notable outrage was painting a moustache on a copy of the Mona Lisa and scribbling obscenities beneath and proudly displaying a urinal as sculpture. The public was repulsed – which the Dadaists found wildly encouraging. When Dadaism became mainstream they dissolved themselves. By World War II many of the European artists fled to the USA or died in Hitler’s death camps.

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