Five years ago when Christine Hill presented her Volksboutique in Kassel, Germany as part of Documenta X she had already begun to develop a form of art practice that reflected on the condition of being an artist.

Hill’s reappraisal of the artist’s role was based on a variety of other minor parts she adopted (she is listed in the Documenta catalogue as a masseuse, a concessions girl, a rock singer, a shoe shiner, a striptease dancer). Each new temporary identity is a service provider through which Hill investigates their potential as an art presence – an exploratory ground upon which Volksboutique was founded as a site where she could ‘deal with service, interaction, the portrayal and assumption of roles, the generation of conversation between individuals and the information therein.’

Working out of the legacies of the ‘Happenings’ environment and its theatricality, Pop Art’s commodification of the art object and its space of consumption, and Joseph Beuys’ unification of art and life through his model of ‘social sculpture’, Hill exceeds each. In the process she proposes new roles for viewers (as consumers, tourists, members of a television audience), redefines exhibition spaces (as stores, studios, catwalks) and reinvents a mobile artistic identity (whether as a show host, store owner or tour guide).

In Liverpool, as part of the International 02, Hill was running the Volksboutique Accounting Archive (2002). The Archive, as described by the artist, was ‘established in the city centre to provide a point of departure and an access zone for participants. This space becomes a sculptural event, a visual document of the “world” that the participants are entering. It echoes a polling station, a campaign office, a room for taking names and numbers, a place where ledgers are and desks are housed. This place features a complete functioning accounting office and an administrator who is occupied with the task of interviewing and assisting participants in their entries to the Archive.’

With insight into the Liverpudlian character, Hill based her inspiration for her new addition for the Archive on her first encounters with people in the city. ‘I was impressed with the number of people who had opinions about the city and seemed to want to share them with me. It seemed a very storied place, also one with a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding it. I wanted to invent something that would catalogue these stories, collect them for review, something that would “account for” the variations in accounts of the place. Something that would try to provide a consensus or poll.’

The Volksboutique Accounting Archive, 2002
An Organisational Venture and Accounting Office Courtesy
Commissioned by Henry Moore Foundation contemporary projetcs
Exhibited at Pleasant Street Board School