The Showroom

The Language of Things

Saturday 4 December 2010, 3–5pm

A discussion with Luigi Fassi (Director ar/ge kunst, Bolzano, Italy), Stefano Harney (Chair in Strategy, Culture and Society, Queen Mary, London), Julia Mortiz (Art Historian, Luneburg University, Germany), Andrea Phillips (Director of the Doctoral Research Programme,Goldsmiths, London) and Joshua Simon (Curator and Filmmaker, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel).

When Karl Marx described commodity fetishism in Capital (1867), he mentioned that beyond its exchange and use values, the commodity has a third implied quality, or as he put it: 'A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and easily understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties'. Since the past 150 years the commodity has become the historical subject in contemporary culture. Almost every object enters the world today as a commodity and as such it feels most at home in this world (think of IKEA for example – are we furnishing our world with it, or maybe we dwell in its world?).

Through various strategies of composition, appropriation and re-contextualization of different commodities, artists try to make and understand artworks today. From an assemblage of consumer products to an abstract painting, one could argue that some commodities are art objects, but all art objects are commodities.

The commodity not only precedes the commodification of artworks in the art market, but it precedes the artwork itself. It is the material that is in all materials. It is the basic technique of every technique, the fundamental medium of all mediums.

This event is organised by Caterina Riva and Joshua Simon.