A L E X G A W R O N S K I

Relative Currency

Relative Currency (Homage to James Ensor), 2011

Alex Gawronski: Relative Currency (Homage to James Ensor), 2011

‘It’s About Time’, Death Be Kind, East Brunswick, Melbourne

(Mdf, oregon, acrylic paint, printed photographic paper)

‘Relative Currency (Homage to James Ensor)’ transforms two of ‘Death Be Kind’s’ gallery walls into a mock memorial. The work implicitly asks – specifically in lieu of the gallery’s title – what is in a name? In the art world names are a currency of their own ultimately more valuable than the material worth of physical artworks. Nonetheless, the powerful exchangeability of an artist’s name is, quite literally in the end, seriously relative. Who can tell after an artist’s death whether the currency of their name will prevail? Does this matter in any case? If it doesn’t, then what is the true value, beyond ‘investment’ or monetary significance, of an artist’s output? Such a question is rendered even more opaque and difficult to quantify once the concept of value has been transferred from isolatable objects to the immaterial and spatial dynamics of art genuinely practiced and therefore always already embracing processes of change and decay. Suitably, the subtitle of the installation conceptually conjures eccentric proto-modernist James Ensor’s 1888 etching ‘My Portrait in 1960’. In this work, Ensor sardonically depicted himself as a worm-eaten skeleton casually lounging in the deathbed to which he must have long ago been abandoned; the material and symbolic futures of art jarringly counter-posed

Written by alex gawronski

February 13, 2014 at 3:42 PM