Within the world of art history, there has been a long history of informal exchange — a type of transaction between artists and creatives borne from admiration, comradery, and often rivalry. In an increasingly corporate and cut throat art world, the long history of the artist trade has remained stable — testament to the fact that artists, by and large, are the best collectors. They are the last to think of art as a commodity and are the first to cohabit with artworks that are meaningful, offer sensibility and are suffused with sentiment. In this way, the artist trade offers the custodians of these works something money cannot grant.
Drawing upon the spirit of the artist gift and exchange, Auckland Art Fair’s 2021 Projects draws together six early career New Zealand artists in a series of commissioned unfolding interventions that continues the fair’s initiatives to encourage contemplation and debate, and to advance social change. As an alternative model to the commercial exchange of the art fair, the artists have created endless copies of an object that will be given away and traded with audiences in contexts that reinforce personal and communal bonds over the individualising effects of the cash-based exchange. From soap, to abandoned birds’ nests and ceramic totems, each artist has transmuted seemingly everyday objects part of our recognisable reality into a poetic meditation on today’s issues — offering audiences a different type of transaction that takes place outside of the usual business of art collecting.
– Micheal Do, Curator
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