Off the Shelf: Texts, Prints, Actions, Intentions and Objects from the WITH Collective
WITH is the most original artists project in Britain today
WITH are an art collective who have created a number of ‘Solutions’ at the website www.withyou.co.uk. On commissioning a Solution, a client has a life experience either invented or lived out on their behalf, by a member of the collective. The documented proof of the commissioned act is then presented to the purchaser thus becoming the ‘product’ or ‘artwork’ of the exchange.
After 8 years of bespoke public and private commissions, WITH have turned their attentions to the idea of the ‘Off The Shelf’ Solution for their second solo show at Rokeby, in what the Collective are describing as ‘WITHSTORE_001’. The exhibition will feature a series of limited edition and one-off solutions that promise future activity on the purchasers behalf, including accidentally breaking a glass, working for free, being 25 for 300 years and being Happy for a period of your choosing. Other works promise that acts have already been carried out on the viewers behalf and that full experiential transference is only achieved through ownership of the resulting documentation. WITH are keen to point out that there is something for everyone with prices ranging from £100 - £500,000.
Since the projects inception, WITH have consistently asked through the frame of a poetic and comedic network of half-truths, pertinent questions about how artists can try to negotiate an age saturated by competing identity narratives. The project attempts to wade through the glutinous soup of publicly lived lives by examining the nature of vicarious experience, belief and the limits of human labour from within a darkly funny, evocative and accessible platform. WITH succinctly challenge the parameters and orthodoxy of contemporary art by implicitly examining the efficacy of artists in a rapidly changing and blurred cultural landscape – one that has entered an experiential, user generated, virtual and mediated age.
In the past WITH have been commissioned to fabricate traumas and to do nothing on a clients behalf, and by using the site of the gallery as a ‘store’ to sell the husks of other such ephemeral notions, WITH ask provocative questions about the value of art, without ever lapsing into cynicism or suspicion of the ‘commercial’. Since 2002 WITH have been experimenting effectively with what constitutes a meaningful exchange between artists and commissioners, and the group consider WITHSTORE to be a natural extension to this evolving enquiry.
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