In an experiment aimed at disrupting this retail flow, Leaving consists of the design and fabrication of garments (in this case dresses) that are then left in retail outlets among the other items for sale. In place of price and sizing tags, these garments carry small drawings in graphite on paper.
Art Destination Agreement. Digital document. (2015)
Leaving as installed in "Leaving is the Best Point of View", an exhibition at 2 Rivington in NYC, July 2015.
Leaving draws inspiration from Marc Augé’s study of “non-places”, in particular his discussion of tourism and the Romantic era travel accounts of Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand. Augé identifies Chateaubriand’s sublimation of place into image as a hallmark of Modern subjectivity. He writes, “The ideal vantage point –because it combines the effect of movement with distance – is the deck of a ship putting out to sea.”1
The activity of leaving or passing by affords us the image of a place in its entirety. When we occupy a space (whether a landscape or building) we can only see to the edge of its particular horizon: the top of the buildings; the walls and ceiling of the room we are in. The birds-eye view can be recalled or constructed in the minds-eye, but is never visible from the location we inhabit.
The goal of the branded retail space is to detach the shopper from her particular experience of this space (from sorting, calculating, weighing use value with touch, fit, desire) and to connect her with an image of coherent style and ultimate happiness promised by the commodities displayed. Necessarily, this image is inscribed with class, race, age and gender norms, but its goal is erasure of the realities of how, why, where and by whom goods were made. Histories of materials and labor are denied so that the smooth “nowness” of the sale can be preserved and repeated.
Leaving asks: what is the status of an object that is left behind and has no price tag to quantify its value, no bar code to give it a place in the inventory? If the thief is a criminal in the Capitalist system, what is the role of a person who gives what has not been requested? In a sense, she is a polluter of images, a blasphemer of the brand.
In order to extend participation and geographic reach of Leaving, the project includes the Art Destination Agreement,
(a document developed by the artist with an attorney) that is signed by both the artist and the buyer of the garment. Garments made for Leaving can be purchased for two prices that dictate two distinct relations between the object and the purchaser.
A Leaving dress can be purchased for $500.00 and kept by the purchaser, either as an art object or a garment. Alternately, a Leaving dress can be purchased for the special price of $79.00 for the purpose of participation in the Leaving project. In this case, the Leaving garment must be left in a retail outlet of the purchaser’s choice within 7 days of purchase.
The purchaser is required to notify the artist of the location where the Leaving garment was left. Photographic or video documentation of the activity of leaving / and or the destination of the garment is requested by the artist, but not required.