Art & Photography

Jeremy Hutchison: Capitalism is the Ultimate Avant-Garde

Ajay Hothi talks to the artist about his ERRATUM® project at Paradise Row, examining the value of objects

An object’s function gives it its purpose. With successful use, it has its teleological moment of completion: while the logic of its function remains uninterrupted, it has purpose. A successful object uses a language that is direct and takes the simplest approach in guiding its user to its natural end point. “Subversion is crucial within my artistic practice” says London-based artist Jeremy Hutchison, “as equally so as in marketing.” This month Hutchison launches ERRATUM®, a pop-up boutique created in collaboration with London gallery Paradise Row and based in their Fitzrovia venue.

“We’re in such a unique point in time where we’re witnessing real firework
economies; financialisation – particularly here in London – is palpable”

“The best kind of advertising flatters the audience with their own sophisticated levels of intelligence. It acknowledges itself and the machine behind it.  It says ‘I’m selling you this thing and isn’t this entire game ridiculous, but you want it anyway, don’t you?’”

ERRATUM® is the second phase of an ongoing project. For the first phase, Err, exhibited in 2011, Hutchison contacted factories in countries including China, India and Pakistan asking to be sent a product that had been created with an intentional error. As much as Err examined the processes of mass production and the functions of everyday objects, it was an exploration of communication in an age of mechanical reproduction. ERRATUM® capitalises on this concept. The boutique goes beyond utility, beyond logic and beyond the sensual. ERRATUM® is the luxury of dysfunction. Its wicked sense of humour is balanced by Hutchison’s pragmatism.“The audience for this work are people who buy Gucci handbags. They’re not stupid people and they’re not duped by culture. They’re just willing to participate in all these rituals because these ‘meaningless’ objects stand at a certain point in a system of values that make it worthwhile to them. The project is not to satirise. It’s futile as an artist to stand there and throw stones at the window and think that it’s possible to make a gesture that is somehow anti-capitalist and counter to the market. Capitalism is the ultimate avant-garde. A much more interesting response is to inhabit the system.”

ERRATUM® is an intervention within the gallery system. For the temporary boutique, the gallery posted an advertisement on Gumtree “looking for male and female performers to act as sales assistants.” Hutchison explains this: “It’s extraordinary how often the languages of capitalism and performance art overlap. This is a performance inasmuch as every shop, every art gallery and every brand is a performance too. Each performs its own logic. Shop assistants are performers. They’re scripted; they have positions and make specific movements. When you enter a shop you’re part of an incredibly rigorous performance.”

The boutique may be short-lived as a social experiment but Hutchison is looking further ahead. “How communication functions is subject to context and this project is all in the reading. It’s a rehearsal for a possible alternate reality; a proposition for a store that could be. We’re in such a unique point in time where we’re witnessing real firework economies; financialisation – particularly here in London – is palpable. The interesting thing for me would be to see how this project functions in different markets, say in Russia or China, using Google Translate to perform continual mistranslations of an already dysfunctional language.”

Erratum® runs at Paradise Row from 5-21 December

Racket – incorrectly Manufactured objects in Jeremy Hutchinson's new show Erratum