When we curated the stand for our Arts Projects space at London Art Fair we wanted to show a cross-section of work from the Axisweb directory. The directory is bursting at the seams with talent and the Art Fair is a great way to show it in the flesh.
Selling the work is, of course, important in this context and the work was selected with this in mind. However I think it would be fair to say that the success of Hanae Utamura’s ‘Wiping the Sahara Desert’ has taken both the artist, and us, by surprise.
The work, a darkly comic single shot video of a secret performance in the Sahara Desert, deserves the attention. It has made visitors stop in their tracks, mesmerised by the artist’s futile attempts to sweep the desert rendered in a richly coloured high quality video.
So why the surprise that we have sold two editions of the work? Because it is a video artwork. Available for sale in an edition of three, the work will go to the buyer as a Blue Ray disc.
Artwork on video has been selling for many years now, but at an art fair where I’ve only been able to find one other moving image work, it is great that buyers are willing to invest in this kind of work and not just stick with the safety of something you can hang directly on your wall.
And the popularity of the work has raised some interesting conversations with visitors about what happens if you buy a video.
What do you take home? How do you display it? Who owns the copyright? Can you make extra copies to give to friends? How many other people will own it as well? Can I see the performance happen in real life? Why do I get a video and not the performance itself? What happens if all three editions get sold – does that mean it can’t be shown to the public again? Does the artist get to keep a copy?
It fills us with confidence for emerging artists working in new media that we have had this success at the fair and we hope that we have been able to encourage collectors to take a chance with both a young artist and an unorthodox medium.
And the answers to the questions? Well that’s a whole other blog post….