The work was presented for the first time on the façade of the Royal College of Art’s historical headquarters, in South Kensington of London, shortly after the 175th anniversary from the college’s establishment (1837-2012). The banner’s aim has been not to simply disrupt the façade of a prominent public building by covering part of it; rather, it aimed at disrupting the very idea of what it means to be an artist working under the current socioeconomic conditions. The arts and culture have been harshly affected by the worst economic crisis of the last eight decades: art organizations implement severe cuts, numerous of them close down, and artists (particularly the young) face great difficulty in their efforts to fund the production of new work and exhibit. At the same time, artists are called to perform their social role, whilst working within and against society’s puzzlement when faced with the problem of demystifying the nature of the crisis and our current economic systems.
The banner’s ironic phrase « The market will save us » constitutes an oblique contribution to this process of demystification. Notably, the phrase was written with the same font used in the document with which Queen Elizabeth II granted the college with a Royal Charter in 1967 (the right to award university-level degrees). By alluding to the contradictions through which the art world operates today, the work highlights the catastrophic economic determinism that dominated the period preceding the crisis. As art education increasingly becomes a privilege, the role of the art market grows more and more influential. And the question is: who is going to benefit from this new relationship: the arts, the market, or, perhaps, neither in the long-term?
Title: The Market Will Save Us
Artist: Bill Balaskas
Photo: Dominic Tscudin
Banner on the façade of the Royal College of Art, London (23.4 x 6.8 m)
Courtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki
The project was realised with the generous support of Ms. Irene Panagopoulos
About Bill Balaskas:
Bill Balaskas was born in 1983 in Thessaloniki, Greece, where he studied economics before moving to the UK in order to study art. His background has significantly influenced his artistic practice, especially ever since the outbreak of the global financial crisis of 2008 that seriously affected his home country. Since 2005, he is a London-based artist working across different media. He is currently a PhD candidate in the programme of Critical Writing in Art & Design of the Royal College of Art and he holds an MA from the same college. His works have been widely exhibited internationally, in more than 90 solo and group exhibitions. He has received nominations for several awards, including the AUDI Art Award for the most innovative young artist in 2013, and he has presented work in special curated sections at Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Cologne and Art Brussels, amongst others. In 2012, he represented the UK in the London Cultural Olympiad and in Maribor, the European Capital of Culture. Furthermore, his works have been regularly featured in major international publications such as Frieze, The Art Newspaper, Le Monde, Domus, Third Text and Espoarte. In addition to his artistic practice, Bill Balaskas is an awarded writer as well as an editor for the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (The MIT Press). In the last few years, he has given public talks about his work at the University of Oxford, the 11th Sharjah Biennial, Tate Liverpool, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Central Saint Martins and the Victoria & Albert Museum. The main ideas encountered in his practice are irony, humour and the subversion of spectacle, through the fuse of which he explores subjects with a strong political character.
Bill Balaskas is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki