Does Frieze Have a Homeless Problem?
In retrospect, perhaps, it was clear that those shopping carts filled with stuffed plastic bags parked around the grounds at the Frieze art fair, the kind that homeless people push, aren’t really homeless peoples’ carts. That is, they are homeless people’s carts, but they aren’t carts left by homeless people, which surely would have been removed by the staff.
Instead, they are, of course, art—a project staged by two provocateurs, curator Tom Eccles and artist Cristoph Büchel, who bought the carts from homeless people for $350-500 a piece. Each cart is titled 1% (the name of each former owner follows in parentheses)—not only for the “we-are-the-99%-occupy-movement-rhetoric,” as the artist puts it, “but also to that a cart was bought for 1% of the actual art market value.”
Buchel’s gallery, Hauser & Wirth, notes that the carts are a prologue to the Homeless Parade, “an actual parade with homeless people” through New York City that the artist “is working to organize in collaboration with Homeless people, the Sculpture Center, and organizations that support the homeless.”
This particular cart leans against Et tu, Duchamp?, a sculpture by Subodh Gupta, another Hauser & Wirth artist, who recapitulated the Dadaist’s rectified readymade of a Mona Lisa postcard, but in black bronze.
Maybe next someone will come along and cast the carts in bronze, creating yet another venue for exploring issues of exploitation, appropriation, intellectual property, and personal property. But who would have the rights?
Christoph Büchel, 1% (Jacob), 2012, homeless cart. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth