In their film, A Modest Proposal (in a Black Box), Vermeir & Heiremans, who are also the film's protagonists, discuss a new financial model with a lawyer. Their dialogue, witnessed by the lawyers assistant, focuses on the question if financialisation can be re-purposed towards generating a more equitable arts ecology. Considering the financialisation of public art collections, museum real estate and symbolic capital, the financial model should benefit not only investors and art institutions, but also its stakeholders, the creators of the art assets' value, the artists and art workers.
In the film the artists propose to financialise a specific building as their first case study: Pump House Gallery in Battersea Park. The gallery is located in the vicinity of the Battersea Power Station, a 20th century former coal-fired power station, currently under re-development. It will house Apple’s London headquarters and offers luxury apartments for sale, designed by Frank Gehry and Foster and Partners. All in all an excellent momentum to leverage rising values that surround the gallery, to ‘pump’ up the building’s value as an asset, and generate a return on investment for the wider art community.
The conversation between the artists and the lawyer takes place in Vermeir & Heiremans’ house, which in their practice they define as an art work. Meanwhile the seemingly absent-minded assistant often slips away from the discussions. She appears to be able to materialise and dematerialise at will the lofty space by caressing the walls, playing with the miniature furniture inside a scale model of the artists’ house or using the latter as a framing device, manipulating the window views. When the artists and the lawyer go on to discuss and celebrate the proposal on the loft’s rooftop garden, glass of champagne in hand, she takes control…
A Modest Proposal filmography/exhibition list
A Modest proposal (in a Black Box), solo-exhibition at Pump House Gallery, London (3 October - 16 December 2018)
BIO Vermeir & Heiremans
The videos and installations of the artist duo Vermeir & Heiremans investigate the complex relationship between economy, spatiality, and social reality in today’s highly globalized world. The artists define their own house as an art work, which they use as a framing device to focus on the growing financialisation of the arts, real estate and daily life in general. The duo raises questions about the role the arts play within the ever-growing entanglement between urban development, financialisation and governing. The artists employ financial tools, historical references, technology, and cinematic language to reflect on social codes as well as on the production of value in today’s artistic and non-artistic realms.
Vermeir & Heiremans have presented their work (inter)nationally o.a. at the 10th Istanbul Biennial (2007), Arnolfini, Bristol (2009), Nam June Paik Art Center, Yongin (2010), Viennale, Vienna (2011), 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennial (2012), Manifesta 9, Limburg (2012), Argos, Brussels (2012), Extra City, Antwerp (2012), Riga Art Space (2013), 13th Istanbul Biennale (2013), Stroom, Den Haag (2014), Rotwand Gallery, Zurich (2014), Triennale Brugge (2015), Dojima River Biennale, Osaka (2015), Curated by_Vienna at Georg Kargl Gallery (2015), Transmediale, Berlin (2016), Bucharest Biennale 7 (2016), Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin (2017), Glassyard Gallery, Budapest (2018), Art Brussels (2018), The Atlantic Project, Plymouth (2018), Pump House Gallery, London (2018)