“Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market” is an unusual bazar des artistes and an invitational not unlike the Biennale itself. As the aesthetic quality of a “Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market”depends on the participation of buyers and sellers alike, each day holds its own surprises, unfolding with the primary aim of keeping the creativity totally free of constraints and the audience actively involved.
The range of offerings is broad: artistes sell their work (some create new work on site), present live performances, hold book signings, sell their vintage, clothes, books, trinkets, or even make food and drink. Visitors can peruse freely and have the chance to come into direct contact with the artists. Pruitt’s project blurs the line between art and the quotidian while offering insight into the way the art market works by recreating it with a shifted context.
The engaging nature of the project, which privileges an egalitarian aesthetic, is characteristic of Pruitt’s work, continually oscillating between being critical of and being seduced by the production and consumption of our present world. Through a plurality of languages and media ranging from painting to sculpture to installation,Pruitt‘s work, while voluntarily open to interpretation, comments on the allure and excess of the art world and of consumer culture, often through the use of personal and intimate aspects of the artist’s life and experience.
As Venice has for many centuries been a crucial crossroads of cultural and trade exchange, making it the ideal location for such an event, this particular incarnation of “Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market” is poised to exploit the art world and its personalities who will be descending upon Venice, functioning parallel to the Biennale as an alternative experience.
During the preview days of the Art Biennale, a wide audience of “art insiders” – artists, curators, critics, journalists – converges with the local community and the complex dynamics of such a unique city, resulting in an exciting social situation.
Traditionally, the commercial aspect of art is swept aside or kept from view (the same is often true for the presence/visibility of the artist figure), but the new context provided by the performative structure of the flea market breaks down such traditional barriers that separate the artist, the work, and the audience. This becomes a reflection upon the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in the art world, upon its economical rules, the social value assigned to objects, and the relationship of authenticiy and property to the work of art.
Artists and visitors become involved in an exchange that may resemble the bartering and haggling of open-air markets of the past, simultaneously reflecting the negotiation process between dealer and collector at one of today’s mega art fairs. Ultimately, according to Pruitt, at the end of the day it’s a gesture of inclusion – one that attempts to dismantle pretension and make all people feel more comfortable about bringing art into their lives.
Presented for the first time in Venice, “Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market” is organized by the students of the “22nd Course in Curatorial Practices and Contemporary Arts” at the school for curatorial studies Venice, directed by Aurora Fonda and Sandro Pignotti.
The project is curated by Tommaso Speretta.