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Give and Take

Artist’s Statement

Here’s the way it works: GIVE – I shall exchange up to 300 small books, 14.85 x 14 cm, each unique, with shoppers and passers-by in St John’s Market in Liverpool over a period of 10 days. In my little book there is an original photographic work of an object I keep in my home in Berlin, Germany. Each photograph is numbered and signed, and accompanied by a handwritten text about its history and personal value to me. TAKE – In return I shall be asking for a keepsake, talisman or souvenir (no larger than my book) that they may be carrying with them in a pocket or handbag, or would even go home to select. I shall ask for their names and write down any information they would like to tell me about the object. All the special objects that I am able to collect in this way will be photographed and documented in a book and then placed into a transparent pocket, lined with gold paper, sewn onto a length of canvas right then and there in the shopping centre. After the event in process is over, the completed canvases will be exhibited in a public space in the city for the duration of the Biennial, and then will remain in the city in a suitable collection. The first Biennial of Contemporary Art has the subtitle TRACE. The canvases I make will display traces of people and their lives in Liverpool at the time TRACE takes place. Give and Take also reflects a concept of living and sharing together in a complex civilisation that becomes ever more fragmented, while people and the things they love most dearly are much the same the whole world over.

History of the Project

The first manifestation of this kind of art-exchange was devised for an art project, Tuchfühlung, in the small town of Langenberg, Germany, in 1997, to which I was invited together with two of my colleagues in Berlin. The three of us: myself, Elke Nord and Rosemary Jarman, formed the group NONOJA. In German, ein Tuch is a piece of cloth or fabric. To be in Tuchfülung implies a feeling of closeness or bodily contact. We wished to be in contact with the people of Langenberg, to talk to them, and to involve them in the art process. We began by exchanging small books containing signed artwork with our friends and acquaintances wherever our travels took us. By the time we went to Langenberg there were already 150 pockets filled in the canvases we had prepared beforehand. A book with text and photographs followed. On August 1 and 2, the group NONOJA was on duty in St Michael’s Catholic Church ready to enter into dialogue with members of the general public or any of the other 200 artists invited to participate in Tuchfühlung. The response was overwhelming, and in 24 hours the number of relics more than doubled. All the objects we traded for were immediately photographed, entered into our register and sewn into the pockets. The canvases were laid out along narrow tables that reached down the central aisle of the church from the first row of pews to the front portal, where they remained for the rest of the month, even during a society wedding. Tuchfühlung was not completed for us until March 1998, when NONOJA exhibited all our projects and editions at the Galeria 13 in Hannover, formerly used as a church. Here, 384 ‘relics’ pocketed on 10 canvases hung along the back wall where the altar used to stand, and the book, in a golden clothbound case, was placed on a lectern beside them. The project is now being prepared for exhibition on the Internet at the web site Fine Arts Online http://www.virtualitas.com.

Date

24 September – 07 November 1999

Location

125 St.Georges Way
Liverpool
L1 1LY

www.stjohns-shopping.co.uk