Eight artists from North America have been invited to participate in These Gifts Must Always Move, an exhibition that playfully questions ideas of cultural and artistic reciprocity. Through delving into the lives of objects and ideas, the interdependence of meaning and context is examined, in light of specific artists’ notions of travel, personal origins and interactions with new places.
For this exhibition, artists will send a “gift” to Melbourne with the curator, and will request a particular item for the curator to bring back to them. The collection of these objects and ideas will be exhibited at Sutton Project Space before being dispersed to new locations.
“Gifts” may take the form of artworks, props, studies, talismans, documents, introductions, sounds, souvenirs, favors, instructions, personal belongings, happy-snaps, hand-me downs… The curator will act as messenger, fixer, diplomat, and emissary, in facilitating the exchange of gifts between countries.
These Gifts Must Always Move encourages responses to visiting, exhibiting, and establishing relationships/bonds within and across contexts where the idea of “place” is difficult to overlook. During a time where site-specific projects are par for the course at exhibitions internationally, These Gifts… focuses on eight personal instances of exchange, raising questions about the tenability of unique cultural representations within a globalized world. Foremost, it reveals the process of generating meaning through the contextual shifts that the gifted objects and ideas undergo.
The title of the show takes its cue from a Native American belief popularized by Lewis Hyde which declares that a gift must be used, consumed, passed on or reciprocated: it is precisely this that distinguishes it from a commodity. Whether the gift retains its original form, is transformed, or substituted, its perpetual movement is essential.
Alicia Ritson is the former Associate Curator at Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX and is currently pursuing her graduate degree at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, NY.