Hydra School Projects, Hydra, Greece
This exhibition begins with a concise introduction to the theme at hand: the fake. It starts at the doorway to this former school on Hydra, taken over some 15 years ago by artist and curator Dimitrios Antonitsis, with a framed dinner receipt faxed to Antonitsis from Dash Snow hanging above Robert Gober’s Monument Valley receipt from 2007, a handcrafted wood engraving on Legion interleaving paper of the $5 receipt Gober received upon entering the region within the Colorado Plateau. Then there is a receipt an art handler stuck to the wall—a joke Antonitsis decided to keep as part of the show. Coincidentally (or not), the latter receipt completes a loose reflection of Plato’s theory of forms: the original object and its copies, each linked to the concept of a transaction and value judgment, not unlike an artwork.
In many ways, the question of value lies at the core of this show. In one grouping, six miniature copies of Christopher Wool’s painting UNTITLED (Riot) (1990), which recently sold at auction for nearly USD 30 million, from Eric Doeringer’s Bootleg series are hung opposite two copies (or forgeries) of paintings by Greek masters (and market favourites) Yannis Gaitis and Alekos Fassianos. It is a curious spectrum of objects that poses an unstable question: how real is the fake if we are to consider it within the context of the artistic gesture? Take Family Matters!, a series of photographs taken by Antonitsis in 1998 of his friends dressed in drag in their homes in Greece, with their family members in the frame. Or an installation by Shanzhai Biennial in a room of imitation clothing—readymade fakes—made in China, brand names altered to avoid copyright laws. There is a strange coherence to the installation, especially in objects like the t-shirt on which “iPhone5” is printed as if it were a clothing brand name, its ubiquitous apple icon filled with the stars and stripes of the American flag. It is our instinct to transmit, imitate, copy.
In this, “GENUINE FAKE” does not only question the reality of the fake but also considers its true value outside the formal understanding of what a fake is. Take Andreas Lolis’s series of marble sculptures of bamboo sticks hidden in a plant area outdoors: in Plato’s conception, Lolis’s work would be the fake, but, in the space of art, the work stands in as a simulation of truth—a mirror not to the real, but to the illusory. Consider another Shanzhai Biennial work in this show: a 2014 collaboration with luxury real estate agents Aston Chase to sell the GBP 32 million estate 100 Hamilton Terrace. Playing once more on the concept of the copy, the Biennial produced a TV advertisement for the property (aimed at an affluent “Chinese” audience if the soundtrack—a Chinese version of Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”—is anything to go by). The commercial is shown alongside elegant steel sculptures that look like paper by Tula Plumi and high-end glassware actually made out of trash Gerd Rohling. Like this exhibition as a whole, it is an elegant détournement of art as a cunning—and curious—illusion that constitutes a strange reality in which we are all peddlers.