I commissioned a factory sculptor in Northwestern China to carve a self-portrait. He was instructed to adopt the posture of Michelangelo’s Atlas Slave. The sculpture was sealed in a shipping crate, made available on the art market, but never opened.
This project explores the economic reality of contemporary art production, where workers are paid wages, and authorship often resides thousands of miles from the commodity that it claims. By holding copyright over further reproductions of this artwork, I therefore own the rights to the worker’s image.
In his essay Estranged Labour, Marx laments the transformation of human life into a commodity. He proposes that the prevailing system of capitalism must be accelerated to bring its self-destructive tendencies to a swifter conclusion. Here, this problematic strategy is explored.
Date : 2013
Media : Marble, shipping crate, photography, printed correspondence, HD video (2.16 mins)
Commissioner : Third Text
Exhibitions : Victoria House (London), Marso (Mexico City), Third Text