No Soul for Sale: A Festival of Independents

In its second iteration as a participatory art festival, No Soul for Sale: A Festival of Independents celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Tate Modern in London. No Soul for Sale’s first iteration was in June 2009, at the X Initiative in the old Dia building, in Manhattan. The show itself is a collaborative effort by curators Cecilia Alemani, Massimiliano Gioni and artist Maurizio Cattelan.

No Soul for Sale

The festival is a collection of 70 different artist spaces, galleries, artist collectives and various art organizations that have distinctly independent ways of performing art around the globe. The participating groups vary in size and location, from Istanbul (PiST) to Australia (Y3K). As it was in the first iteration of the festival, all of the work was staged together creating a large patchwork of groups, filling the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with projects. Turbine Hall had taped outlines on the ground assigned to the individual spaces, so that viewers could read the names of the groups as they passed through. One of the participating groups, Kling & Bang (Iceland) had an installation called Tower of Now by Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir and Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir, consisting of hundreds of strands of heat-sensitive roller tape suspended from the top of Turbine Hall and weighted down by Icelandic coins.

Tower of Now
Tower of Now by Kling & Bang and Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir and Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir

The organizations selected for this festival hold a couple things in common, the most important of which is that they are all using innovative social formats for moving information around. Some of the non-profit spaces like Rhizome are globally dedicated organizations. Rhizome’s particular interests are in spreading digital culture and providing formats for digital artists to present their work online. The project they produced was entitled “Mail Nothing to the Tate Modern” in collaboration with David Horvitz. The concept was that people were invited to take a predesigned mailing slip Rhizome provided and mail an empty package to the Tate Modern then give Rhizome the tracking number. The tracking numbers are posted online creating a portrait of international mail systems.

Mail Nothing
Mail Nothing to the Tate Modern by Rhizome and David Horvitz

The way groups self-represent in these types of settings, sheds a light on how they operate within the circles of aesthetic information distribution. Many of the participating entities sent in informative literature about themselves or projects they produced. Several projects were sponsored works by single artists produced by the participating groups in the show. There was a dedicated space in Turbine Hall for performance events and presentations, which a good portion of the groups utilized. Some of the groups curated a few works by separate artists, or asked a group of artists they usually work with to participate on a larger collaborative piece. However the participating groups worked it out, there is a reoccurring sense in No Soul for Sale, that the exhibited works of art themselves are seen more as a creative democratic process than a presentation of aesthetic goods, which many art fairs and festivals end up being.

It can, and has been said, that these newer interactive forms of artistic production are the future, especially in relation to how many non-profit or alternative art spaces are beginning to distribute art to the rest of the world. This may be a way of marginalizing what is so important about works like these. The works presented in No Soul for Sale are not the way art will look in the future; it is what art looks like right now, and in some cases a few years ago. It is vitally hard to keep up with what all of the different artists in all of the different venues around the world are doing. We have a chance of seeing many of these different ideas together when they are presented the way they are out at Turbine Hall.

For a list of other participating entities, or to find out more about this show, go to:
No Soul for Sale: A Festival of Independents
Tate Modern

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