Karmelo Bermejo

Karmelo Bermejo’s (b. 1979, Malaga) work often references commerce, labour and economic exchange. The series, entitled Contribution of Labor Free of Charge to…, is exemplary in illustrating the artist’s interest in economy-related issues and in reversing or undermining conventional economics. This body of works is based upon actions carried out by the artist who, without being asked or remunerated, freely performed various tasks on behalf of commercial enterprises. Bermejo subverts the notion of exploitation, metaphorically reattributing to the weakest and most vulnerable strata of society authority and free will in their processes of decision-making. 

Once these humble forms of labour are provided voluntarily, instead of being poorly paid, their meaning is elevated to a higher rank in the hierarchy of values: they become generous gifts, donations or charitable acts. Paradoxically, the moment the artist gratifies the commercial establishment (i.e. corporate business, banking and the luxury market, all activities that in some way exploit undocumented workers) with unasked gifts of generosity, he empowers those who normally perform these duties for little money and reveals the truth of their exploitation.

In Liverpool Karmelo Bermejo presented a video-work entitled The Grand Finale (2009). This work was the documentation of a pyrotechnic show organized by the artist on the shore of Miami Beach during Basel art fair, culminating in a firework that illuminated a billboard-sized sign bearing the word ‘Recession’. The ultimate global threat was celebrated in this artwork, which questioned our fears and insecurities related to the consequences of the credit crunch, and ironically commented on the monetary and speculative value created by the international contemporary art market.

Karmelo Bermejo at Liverpool Biennial 2010

The Grand Finale, 2009
HD Video transferred to Blu-Ray, 2 min 29 seconds
Exhibited at 52 Renshaw Street