Project Native Informant
26 Holborn Viaduct
Morley House, 3rd Floor
October 14 - December 13
Perhaps having grown tired of the now well-worn economic arc of the gentrification of neighborhoods, which artists have in turn already gentrified, the collective Shanzhai Biennial—Babak Radboy, Cyril Duval, and Avena Gallagher—has embraced the poorly concealed machinations of urban regeneration by slickly rebranding the process into a prudent and aspirational investment for this exhibition. Their misleading moniker, which signifies neither a real biennial nor a particular place but refers to the Chinese term for knocking off designer goods for the black market, figures the artist as a luxury accessory sold through the art market’s lifestyle brand.
The installation SHANZHAI BIENNIAL NO. 3: 100 HAMILTON TERRACE, 2014, is the sole work in this show, and features an opulent, red-lacquered and carpeted real-estate office selling a fifty-million-dollar (or thirty-two million-pound) property located at the titular address in London. The absurd price was flaunted at the Frieze Art Fair last month with a similar installation in this gallery’s booth. Both iterations of the work feature a glossy advertising campaign composed of backlit posters and sleek videos. Created in consultation with London brokerage firm Aston Chase, the ads’ imagery mimics tropes of high-end fashion, with groups of models posed around a vast indoor swimming pool at the property or sitting in pairs looking into the distance—evoking a vacant luxury. With this polished campaign—searing in its execution—the collective steps in front of the seemingly inevitable problem of artists’ urban displacement by harnessing their commercial value for their own ends. In drawing a big red circle around the next hot property, this group’s members stand to gain directly from speculative real-estate markets that usually crush artists.