The Emily Harvey Foundation


H+T STEGMAYER: fetish - collecting

Every artwork is a fetish.
So every collector is a fetishist.

H+T Stegmayer, known for their video work about the presentation of art, artists and their collectors, started to research fetishism in art. First, they continued Andy Warhol's video work sleep from the 60th (sleep from the 60s), filming well-known protagonists of Fluxus and Concept Art, like Emmett Williams, Ben Patterson, Geoffrey Hendricks, Ann Noel and many others asleep. The work sleeping artists is dedicated to John Giorno.

For the second part of the video work, the artists confronted works of art with everyday objects used in Fluxus and poetry performances.
Opening a huge storage of fetishes - the archive of Italian art collector Francesco Conz - means documenting one of the most important decades of art in the 20th century. Like Andy Warhol's time capsules, hundreds of boxes, suitcases and bags were stashed to conserve the ephemeral and transient material of performances and happenings since the 70s.

H+T Stegmayer's two part video fetish - collecting renders questions such as 'what is art?' obsolete. The objects shown were stored, many of them signed, some of them even organized with photographic material. Many items are private and even intimate, like artists' hair, clothes, letters, diaries, typewriters, traveling documents and a diaphragm, dedicated to the collector. Some objects bear a clear message: 'this is not art!' -- inscribed for all to see. But the signature of the author still makes them unique ... the denial backfires.

The numerous Fluxus activities are now documented in a comprehensive work.

Margit Zuckriegl (Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria) says of the project:
"H+T Stegmayer produced a sacral and synchronic video-installation. It is like opening Egyptian grave-chambers in a subtile way, layer after layer. It is not only a documentation of the Fluxus and action art period, but also a reconstruction of the experience of the performative itself. What we can discover hereby are playful associations, thoroughgoing criticism of society, everyday objects and pornographic stuff without limits. Although most of the objects are unpretentious and negligible, they've got an aura of authenticity and immediacy. They confer some kind of magic and presence of the artist through the objects he once touched. The video documentation fetish - collecting is the perfect medium for the hidden archive of significance... It is a precise archaeological piece of art."

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