For REGIFT New York artist and Swiss Institute Director John Miller chose the works and commissioned a total of 25 artists. The artists handle the subject of gift exchange in its many arrays including appropriation, value, potlatch (recirculation) and reciprocity. It is a very intriguing art show, with many multi- layered background stories. As objects, many of the artworks summon the surreal, existing as darling momentos generously on view for the public.
Jamie Isenstein has bestowed props which a TV show created based upon her artworks. The pieces are chinsey versions of her original gilded birdcage and a doorway with two peepholes. Do these new versions hold a connection to the artist or do they lose their value? Leigh Ledare's clever work documents her regifting a family grave plot to the MOMA. How will the museum raise the funds to protect the empty grave for eternity? Sophie Calle shows a selection of amazing artifacts, gifts she collected from her birthdays and left unconsumed.
Other works are more directly about gift giving. Jeffrey Charles Henry Peacock are gallerists and artists who have written pages of declarations on their abundant teamwork. "We aim to exchange everything, outdoing the gift received by giving more (and more). To laboriously produce and distribute in the face of other monstrously efficient models. To harness those possibilities of amputation as a means of return." Walter Robinson's gift box is a wooden box painted with celebratory balloons which does not open. The exhibit demonstrates a few blue chip artists' freebies. This show isn't just talk about bigheartedness -- there are giveaways by Felix-Gonzalez-Torres, Louis Lawler, and Mike Kelley. Perhaps the best gift would be the John Waters overflowing Losers Gift Basket, among which encloses a Yanni CD, Breathe Savers, a Pay Day, and a gift certificate to the Betty Ford Center.
Images: Louise Lawler, Matchbooks; John Waters, Loser Gift Basket. Courtesy Swiss Institute.