Who? Mass-production in art is by no means a new concept. Popularised by the likes of Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, the elite art market has expanded to an interesting and controversial point where an artist can place their design on anything from vast prints and furniture to duvet covers and deck chairs, making previously inaccessible work attainable to the wider public. It is a world where luxury is taking on new meaning, and it is the notion of luxury that is being conversely explored by artist Jeremy Hutchison in his show Erratum, currently showing at London’s Paradise Row gallery.
What? Inspired by last year’s controversy at Apple’s Foxconn factory, where workers alleged they were treated ‘inhumanely, like machines,’ Hutchison sent thousands of emails to manufacturers in China, Poland, India, Turkey and Pakistan, requesting a deliberately flawed version of the item they produced in multiplicity each day. The products that have been returned – a double-heeled shoe, a toothless comb, a cheesegrater without holes, a sealed pipe – are anomalies that jar against our complacent understanding of the identikit nature of factory production. And taking it further, Hutchison has created an online shop where the items can be purchased, extending the conceit that the worthless is the ultimate definition of luxury.
"This is an extreme exploration of the notion of luxury, pushing the concept of a pointless possession to its limit"
Why? This is an extreme exploration of the notion of luxury, pushing the conception of a pointless possession to its limit. In stylising the utilitarian object through deliberate error – removing the function which makes it useful – the pieces become at once useless and unique. Say Erratum, “True luxury has no function. It is a feeling, beyond sense, beyond logic, beyond utility. It is an ethic of perfect disfunctionality.” And in this collection of eerily recognisable yet mutated objects, Hutchison has fashioned an overt meditation both on what makes something a luxury, and further, what makes something art.
Text by Tish Wrigley