MICAH SPEAR Ø – NULL IN TOKYO
SO1 Gallery, Tokyo
7-9 April, 2017
New York-based artist Micah Spear presents his latest solo works Ø (Null) Prisms, at Harajuku’s SO1 Gallery.
Presenting sculptural resin pieces reflecting a much-needed critique on society’s relationship with currency and the true value of wealth.
18 artworks are presented, each holding an individual “burnt” currency with questionable worth, cast and preserved in individualised lucite prisms. The monies (some of which are uncirculated and sequential legal tender, some are questionable in authenticity) are diverse in country of origin, ranging from the Somali Shilling, Japanese Yen, to the US Dollar.
From a diverse artist background, artist Micah Spear has collaborated with fellow emerging artists for the exhibition, presenting a film by Julian Klincewicz (Gosha Rubchinskiy, Eckhaus Latta, and Kanye West) shot on 8 and 16mm film with accompanying sound composition by Glochids.
The exhibition also accompanies Ø (Null) book launch, an all-black 100 Limited Edition cloth bound artist book, featuring each prism and stills from the short film shot in the fabrication studio. With book design by the revered designer Duane King, foreword by Champ Editor Joanna Kawecki, Poetry by Joel Morley and photography by Elizabeth Renstrom (Vice Photo Editor).
Prior to the exhibition this Friday, we spoke with Spear on what first inspired the Null concept,
and how to value your work that questions value itself…
Champ: Why have you chosen to have the first exhibition of the series of Null in Tokyo?
Spear: I’ve needed a long break from New York so this seems like a good place to do that and be able to share some refined ideas that sprouted during previous visits here.
Being able to put my attention and time into friendships and projects here has been refreshing and fulfilling too.
How did the idea of Null first begin? What inspired the concept?
In my prior series titled “#sealedcontents” I took objects of value and sealed them in vacuum bags and began to frame them. It started as a small Instagram series that got bigger than I expected. Once these objects became sealed I almost lost a feeling of connection with them. They also looked beautiful, still, almost frozen in time. It did not really feel the same way with money. So I started to explore what it meant to take away it’s value and what it represented to myself and others, and that is where the idea of voiding contracts came in. The bags were just early experiments though and needed to be refined. Null takes this narrative further in a more immersive and considered fashion with solid sculptural prisms almost like trophies.
“Ø” explores contemporary society’s relationship with material culture. These objects are proposed as luxury items; placing them squarely at the intersection of commerce and culture. The works aim to awaken viewers from the state of seduction money and objects have over all of us. Everyone sees the series differently—one very wealthy collector I gave an early look said it reminds him of the deteriorating value of American currency, while another collector wonders why I would destroy something so valuable.”
Art goes hand in hand with commerce, especially when exhibiting in a gallery. How do you put a monetary value on your works as an emerging artist?
I’ve had to be objective, experiment, ask those interested in my work a lot of questions, and consider the time and raw materials that go into one piece. Some of my first works in my last series were sold on the sidewalk in NYC. While others sold in “instagram auctions” starting at $1 and ending at a few thousand. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to get to know the people buying my work and understand what they connected with and how they value my pieces. In this series I’m trying to bring to life something both of value and that questions value at the same time. The sculptural prisms I’ve made contain destroyed and thus voided currency. Maybe the art is mostly in the act commerce though.
To you; what is art?
At the moment for me – art is a conversation with intention. Art is unconditional. Honest and frank.
Sometimes it brings me joy or sadness and helps me feel more human and connected to others.
All images courtesy © Micah Spear