BARSHEE, Tenzing; DEJEAN, Gallien: SOLBACH, Dan (eds.)
The BANK Fax-Bak Service
“Press releases are genuinely fascinating documents. They’re usually unsigned, which is perhaps why they’re so often absurdly pompous. But the really interesting thing is, who are they for? Rich collectors, who must be presumed to be stupid and talked to like children? Other gallerists, to show them that they read the backs of theory books too? Artists? Students? Just who is being addressed by these things? The endless nonsnese they contained meant that we could be brutally honest about their conceits, assumptions and errors to the point of outright rudeness, under the none-too-convincing cover of offering free advice as to improvements. There was also a hopefully infuriating holier-than-thou tone to the whole project, and a hypocritical undercurrent.”
Between 1998 and 1999, the London-based art collective BANK operated “The BANK Fax-Bak Service.” For the project, the group’s members, Simon Bedwell, John Russell and Milly Thompson proof-read and copy-edited more than 300 press releases published by galleries in London and New York. The procedure was simple: after adding their mocking corrections, the artists faxed the promotional texts back to the respective galleries. The BANK Fax-Bak Service exposes the art market’s (ongoing) sisyphean effort to legitimize itself through boasting, self-important and nonsensical language. [publisher’s note]
A good way to get ready for the reopening of art galleries, art centers, museums and the like.