RCA Society

RCA Soc Excessive Optimism Show

As part of the continuing dialogue around art and design practice the RCA Society organised an event which brought together twenty different 'works of art' for presentation and discussion. The invitation stated that the works should be submitted with a "bullish" valuation and publicly presented by their "creator" or "representative". Through the individual presentations the work's true value would be revealed and subsequently accepted or rejected by the gathered audience of 'experts'.

In the month running up to the event assistance was given on 'valuation' - How to assess the market value of art. A number of artists were already practiced in the art market place experiencing successful sales as well as failures. Although all the presenters had very strong opinions about the work's value the majority of presentations avoided the financial "hard sell" - with asking prices almost absent-mindedly added on as an afterthought. Interestingly most of the works were not 'excessively optimistic' in pricing - the very few with 'over the top' figures were tongues in very optimistic cheeks yet certainly feasible in the strange world of current financial markets.

The event was the opportunity to bring artists together in a positive social environment where the seriousness of discussion about "how is art valued" and what the works were attempting to express mixed with discussing actual pieces of work. The twenty works on show brought together different approaches, techniques, and skills. An electronic computerised installation generating programmed sounds vied with a quiet water colour abstract, exotically painted enameled panels sat alongside a carved marble relic, a mysterious golden transformer reflected mirror crack'd from side to side, the dominance of form was challenged by the hissing of oxygen.

All scenarios were considered - whatever the audience reaction to the "value" put on the works by their creators was celebrated or molified with suitable drinks - ranging from strong coffee - to - strangely coloured alcohol. In between there was additional sustenance from water, teas, juices, beer and wines and of course a splendid spread of 'mediterranean' food.

The total value of the exhibition of works was £2,428,600.

Please add value by commenting on this project.
How do you judge 'value'?


Excessive Optimism Contribution [Or Nearest Offer]

Excessive Optimism [Or Nearest Offer]
by androgynus anonymus [sic] 
size 48"[h] x 36" [w] [approximate ] 
£500.000 [ONO without frame].

terminal disease
clinical depression
capitalist crisis



Due to the fact that the wall wasn't possible, substituted paper, to explain the text through text/image drawing in charcoal [rescued from barbecue] on the same surface, so producing a palimpsest which would be hung by a hidden frame that would be revealed at the conclusion.

However, circumstance necessitated making an ideological intervention into the discourse that had taken place during the unveiling of previous works, began by explaining the notion of the first "instance" [John Latham], as Aesthetic Big Bang Theory [first mark, exploding, creating instances/events that defined themselves in relation to the space/page in time]. It is essentially an idealist ideology attempting to unite the various philosophical/scientific/aesthetic practices into a holistic philosophy, which was relevant during the pre-history of humankind, evidenced in such Paleolithic drawings in caves like Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Caves which produced drawings over and over for some 10.000 years, beginning in 35.000 years ago, they recording the images of the animals that they hunted, indications of themselves [initial hand-prints] and their use in ritual.

The realisation of technological changes, principally agriculture resulting in a surplus, which could be appropriated by those who ruled, increasingly developed a class system, the art of the past being gradually mythologised in and the emergence of art that reflected the increasing division of labour — sexual/class divisions — corresponding to the transformation of the means, forces and social relations of production, creating the conditions for the culture of a ruling class, which, by nature of the social contradiction, inevitably created class contradictions and initiated a culture of resistance. Not always visible and produced in the margins, it would include the signs and symbols of the workers. Such an approach informed my practice and continues. It was the epistemological break that necessitated an ideological interventionist practice.

The point of the palimpsest was to create a continuous over-drawing that retained relics of its own history with the first marker that humanity used after developing fire — charcoal.

Subjects included: First marks/personal history/collaboration Latham/Bookplumbing/APG/social, political. artistic practices in 60/class struggle/Marx/Cold War/realism & abstraction/conceptual art/Communist politics/Miners Strike/UCS Work-in/Artery/the RCA Re-defined/notion of art as“new reality”/Lenin’s theory of second culture/the continuing necessity of struggle/Marx’s notion of revolutionary practice creating the conditions for change.

The drawing was hung in a Soviet constructed frame along with three frames of road markings of the three letters —
O N O — an explanation of the currency of capitalism, the commodification of culture and the exorbitant price [priceless] which were shuffled into, O NO.


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