“The Return Project” is an assemblage where readymade consumer articles are dissected, reconstructed and represented within the commercial conditions of their wholesale environment – questioning the structure of contemporary art practices.
Babak Golkar has developed a distinct practice that engages critical investigation and renegotiation of spaces between cultural and socio-economical registers. With“The Return Project”, the artist seamlessly operates inside, and positions his work within, the parameters of a commercial system, interjecting the value constructs governing the contemporary art world. The project dismantles the artistic object and the artistic persona within their own contemporary systemic conditions by skewing the established points of references and relationships that seemingly authorize how and where the true value of art resides.
An object is purchased from a store and brought to the studio for photo documentation. The object is then dissected, collaged and reconstructed into a new consumer article and photo documented in its new state. The two photographs, forming a diptych, are printed in the same scale as the original object. Throughout the process original tags and labels are kept intact.
The new object, now declared as an art work by the artist, accompanied by the tags and receipt and a hidden note stating “This is to authenticate this object as a work of art, signed” are then returned to the store for a full refund. The store’s return policy (often 7-10 days) determines the timeframe for the studio process. The returned object – that is, the art object – enters and circulates in the inventory of the store and is once again available for sale, but at the store’s determined price. The leftover cut-off pieces from the reconstruction process are reassembled to form a residual object to accompany the diptych.
A small gesture in the large scheme, each action is planned and executed around a particular concept and is autonomous. Aside from the method that determines the project, each piece/action zooms in on a contemporary issue at stake, ranging from geo-politics and global economy to cultural shortcomings and art historical limitations.
“The Return Project” employs notions of performativity through two, often disproportionate, contexts – that of everyday retail and the rarefaction of the gallery context.