FORT: Blank, 2012
Framed artist hair, each signed
each 18 x 13 cm
Series of 300, each unique within an edition of 2 + 1 AP
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“Just give me a strand of your hair, and you are mine, the whole lot of you,”
the wild man calls to a group of frightened boys in an alpine legend. The boys lock themselves inside a hut and wisely refrain from surrendering their hair. Whoever has the hair has the power.
“Just give me a strand of your hair, and you are mine, the whole lot of you”: this could just as well be the call of the art collector in search of the authentic work in the artist’s studio. In the piece “Blanks,” FORT has taken the art world’s hair and distributed it among collectors. 300 small glass frames, in each frame, one finds a single hair against a white background, at times a playful, winding curve, at others a short dash; always like a drawing. Below the hair and just as delicate stands the name of the corresponding artist. What looks from afar like a flood of empty frames (blank = empty) turns out to be a collection of hair relics of almost every iconic artist alive today, from Ai Weiwei to Gerhard Richter to Yoko Ono.
A strand of the artist’s hair: it could be a memento or a token of love, like the lock of hair received from some faraway lover and worn at the breast in the time of Goethe. A declaration of love from the artist to the audience. But here it is not a lock, it is just one hair. The romantic gesture is reduced to a single strand, and in this reduction it is stripped of almost all romance. One such isolated hair is rather more like a specimen that future generations could use to clone the best artists of the turn of the millennium.
Yet this association, too, is replaced by another. Unlike a specimen, the framing and loving arrangement of the pieces foregrounds a display and exhibition character that makes each hair into a relic containing more of the artist’s real presence than any image of his or her hand. A relic ready to be adored, like the bone fragments of medieval saints; ready to be adored by all who have faith in the canon of contemporary art.
Yet the title transforms the work’s apparent tendency towards sacralization into its opposite. In German, “Blanks” are lost lots (“Nieten”). All big names of the contemporary art world under the umbrella: lost lots. What seems like an iconoclastic gesture by FORT, like a demonstration of disbelief directed at all that the art system deems holy, has its origins within the very heart of the system itself.
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“Just give me a strand of your hair, and you are mine, the whole lot of you”:
this could just as well be the call of the art collector in search of the authentic work in the artist’s studio. In the piece Blanks, FORT has taken the art world’s hair and distributed it among collectors.