Courtesy of Studio Babak Golkar and Edel Assanti
The exhibition is the second installment in Golkar’s Return Project, a series of assemblage works where readymade consumer articles are dissected, transformed and reinserted into their wholesale environment. A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work borrows its title from the motto of the American Federation of Labor; the exhibition takes labour as its central theme, addressing the role of the individual within large-scale commerce and mechanised production.
Golkar initiates each artwork by purchasing an item from a major retailer. The item is brought to the studio for photographic documentation. The object is then dismantled and reconfigured into a new consumer article – an original artwork – related to the original in its physicality and content, but radically altered in each case. The new object is then documented, and along with the original photograph, presented as a diptych printed on an identical scale to the original object.
Throughout the process, the original tags and labels remain intact. The new object is officially declared as an artwork by a carefully hidden authenticity accreditation note. The artwork is then returned to the store from which it was purchased with its original tags for a full refund. The store’s return policy determines the timeframe for the studio process behind each work. The returned art object enters into and circulates the inventory of the store and is once again available for sale at its original price.
Following its alteration, the leftover materials from the original object’s reconfiguring are employed to form a residual object that accompanies the photographic diptych, exhibited together as a singular artwork. Each work in the exhibition is planned and executed around a specific concept within the theme of labour, specific to the original object’s broader allusion whilst examining issues ranging from geopolitics to workers’ rights and globalization.
Inkjet print on metallic paper (x2), cubic zirconia and clay
60 x 60 cm (frame, each); 3.8 x 3.8 cm (token)
A silver ring with a cubic zirconia was purchased from The Hudson’s Bay Company for $35. The cubic zirconia was removed and replaced with a $1,200 diamond by a diamond setter. The words :Original Artwork, B.G. 2016” were carved on the inside of the silver ring before it was returned to the store for a full refund.
cubic zirconia pressed into clay leaving the artist’s finger print.
3.8 x 3.8 cm
A broom, purchased from HomeSense (a clearance store belonging to the American corporation T.J. Max) for $5.99, was turned into a hybrid of a broom and a shepherd’s crook and returned back for a full refund. It was authenticated as a unique work of art before its reentry into the store’s inventory. The cut-off section of the broom was carved hollow and turned into a functioning flute. At once an homage and an elegy, Shepherd and the Witch is a metaphoric marriage of these two poetic and sacrificial characters who have lost their place in our world.
Inkjet print on lustre paper (x2), wood, paint, lacquer and velvet
170.2 x 76.2 cm (prints, each); 30.5 x 2.2 x 2.2 cm (flute)
wood, paint, lacquer and velvet
30.5 x 2.2 x 2.2 cm
The cut off piece of wood from the broom handle was carved into a a functioning flute.
Inkjet print on lustre paper (x2) and hessian thread
25.4 x 38.1 cm (prints, each); 16.1 x 11.4 cm (glove, each)
A ball of Hessian thread labeled “HAND-CRAFTED IN INDIA” was purchased and replaced with a ball of tri-color (red, white and blue) yarn. The Hessian thread was used to knit a pair of gloves for a ten year old boy’s hands. This piece connotes the relationship between the British Empire’s colonial expansions, here signified by the East India Company, and forced labour, signified by the hand of a child as the labourer.
Inkjet print on lustre paper (x2), steel, leather and rubber
172.7 x 55.9 cm (prints, each); 54 x 14 x 4.5 cm (slingshot)
This work highlights how objects of labour can transform into primitive weapons.
In the installation ARM (with In Advance of the Broken Head), 2016 a simple standard shovel purchased from the Home Depot is photographed and displayed on the left. The image on the right, however, documents a transformation: the “Y” shaped handle of the shovel has been cut off and replaced by what looks like a handle of a baseball bat. This diptych image is titled ARM. On the far right of the installation the “Y” shaped handle is displayed, also transformed, into a home-made slingshot entitled here In Advance of the Broken Head. After this transformation the shovel with a new baseball bat handle was signed and authenticated then returned to the Home Depot for a full refund.
Inkjet print on lustre paper
72.4 x 48.3 cm
An illustrated bird poster was bought from IKEA. After cutting out all the birds from it the poster was photographed. On a same dimension paper all different species of pigeon (a bird known for its labour) were illustrated and colored. Signed and authenticated the new hand illustrated poster was returned back to the store for a full refund. All the cut out birds were attached to tree branches and are usually displayed on the ground or off the walls.
Inkjet print on lustre paper
72.4 x 48.3 cm
paper and wood
Inkjet print on lustre paper and steel
40 x 97 cm (frame); 3.8 x 0.3 x 0.3 cm (nail)
A “gallery hook” was purchased from Home Hardware. One of the three nails were carefully taken out of the package and replicated in 24k gold. The gold nail was put in the package and the package was authenticated and returned to the store. The original nail that was taken out of the package is always used to hold a frame with the process images of the act.
Inkjet print on lustre paper (x2)
30.5 x 40.6 cm (prints, each)
Trouble in Paradise is a book by the Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek who is known for his controversial and provocative positions on many contemporary and mostly political subjects. The book jacket had a curious graphics spelling his name in what seemed to be a texture similar to a white chalk. After reading the book from cover to cover, Žižek’s name on the front was traced with white glue then dusted with cocaine. It was then authenticated using the same font and size as was used in the book before it was returned back to Chapters book store.