what is wealth?, 2010
Video installation, Cornerhouse Manchester/uk. Curated by Gavin Wade, director of Eastside Projects Birmingham.
First personal show of RELAX in the UK
what is wealth? is the 29th of the „strategic questions“ formulated by Buckminster Fuller in 1966.
Since 2002, Gavin Wade has invited artists and confronted them with these questions.
The installation (400m2) is made of 3 rooms:
the Cage Room,
the Waste room and
the Storage room.
the Cage Room
A staff member is present during the exhibition and invites the public to choose and read the publications, to waste time in the installation and to spin the wheel of fortune. The Cage Room operates like an exchange cage and is defined by a wire fencing (2.5m high). It contains the production made by Gavin Wade and the artists from 2002 on the Strategic Questions. Whereby these are mainly publications, posters, video pieces on laptops and various objects. The exhibition attendants have received exact instructions from RELAX on how they are to treat visitors. All are greeted and given information such as:
- An invitation to sit down, to take your time, do nothing, engage in discussions, or daydream
- The directive that all publications and objects are at their disposal. People can choose to spread out in the room and consult the selections.
- To obtain publications and objects, a deposit must be paid. The deposit pledged is a valuable, best of all a wallet, credit card, watch, mobile phone, etc. The objects are presented on a plinth pianted in blue with a mirror surface.
- The cage is closed and locked. This allows the attendant to remain in the room but outside of the cage.
The Waste Room is defined by a wall on which the inscription WHAT IS WEALTH has the word WASTE superimposed over it. Chairs and armchairs are in the room. The furniture was lent by the staff (or from friends and family). Should not enough furniture be available, then others can be brought from the Brockenhaus thrift shop. It was crucial not to buy furniture or to get them from a sponsor.
the Wheel of Fortune and the I have / I am wall drawing
The wheel is an object that visitors can touch. The values are drawn on the wall and a projected video displays the value curves. Everybody can win something. When the wheel stops, three arrows (on the wheel) show the values. There are no game rules. Whoever wins is awarded with THE WEALTH MANIFESTO poster.
The Storage Room is a space used by the staff. RELAX asked not to close off this room but only to bar access to it (wire fencing). RELAX equipped the storage room with portraits of Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister holding up the 1979 conservative manifesto; of Ronald Reagan, the ex-US-president from the 1980s, as a stamp; of Deng Hsiao Ping as a wax figure who was head of the government in China at the same time as Thatcher and Reagan. Finally a picture of a demonstration held in Zurich on May 1, 2010, and the mockup of the installation on a sideboard. On the tool chest, the video reservoir news is running. The usual elements of the staff were also visible (wrapped paintings, tools and trash from previous exhibitions not yet disposed off).