Dear Artist Run Galleries, 2003-4, Contractual Project, exhibited at FirstDraft Gallery as part of Arcanum exhibition curated by Ruark Lewis. The show was all about the role of artist run galleries.
There was an edition of about 12 t-shirts, all hand-silk-screened.
Artists could have one for free, if they agreed to sign a contract stipulating that they would never pay more per week for the rent to exhibit in an artist run gallery, than what they pay as part of their normal weekly rent.
A digital copy of the contract template is linked here.
“Purchasers” included Lisa Kelly, Lisa Anderson and Ruark Lewis, (among others). Each purchaser was photographed with two polaroid shots – one for the purchaser to keep, and one for the artist’s archive. Two copies of the contract were signed in the same way.
(The archives of this project need to be exhumed in order to piece back together who participated.)
I was in Montreal at the time of this show, and so Ruark Lewis, who curated the Arcanum exhibition, was the “agent” in charge of setting up the work and making sure the contracts were signed etc.
This is the email I sent to him with instructions on how the piece should work:
Five years later, my friend Ryan turned up to a SquatFest event (2008) wearing one of the shirts. I can’t remember whether he had signed the contract himself, or if he’d borrowed the shirt from a friend: