Fürstliches Vergnügen/ Royal Pleasures is a performance project by WHITE MARKET, a performance label founded in 2009 by artists Claudia Kappenberg (London UK) and Dorothea Seror (Munich, Germany), since 2011 in collaboration with Anke Mey (Munich, Germany).
Fürstliches Vergnügen/ Royal Pleasures further develops the research of WHITE MARKET as described under Trophäen/ Trophies, that is to reveal and critique a systemic and skewed determination of values within the art institution and the culture at large, both of which are fixated on and revolve around objects as markers of worth and promise of wealth. WM performances adopt, displace and subvert the traditional exchange mechanisms to foreground the question of value as such and to reinstate the artist’s agency and her gestures as values in their own right. Interventions also address the visitor in a direct manor and ask her or him to invest into the art they encounter.
Fürstliches Vergnügen/ Royal Pleasures was commissioned by curator Ute Ritchel for KunstTreffpunkt, an annual urban intervention in the city of Darmstadt, Germany. For this project WM chose to work in one of the urban parks in the city centre, which had been a pleasure garden for noble families for some 400 years, but had been opened to the general public in the last century. To address the question of the relation between pleasure, value and money WM spent four days in the park and offered to spend time with the passers-by in a direct exchange for payment by the visitors.
The latter could choose from different activities and a set amount of time and request the company of one or both artists. The price for the experience depended on the duration as well as on the level of intimacy offered. Options included walking hand in hand with the artist or sitting on a park bench or on a swing. Visitors could also choose to be fed chocolates or to be read by the artist. Besides these fixed options and durations there was the possibility to negotiate with the artists a personal package for a special price.
The project did not only highlight the question of value of an artist’s presence and engagement but also addressed issues such as who pays, who determines the price and how much is paid. The action further questioned as to who is responsible for paying for such interventions. By asking for a - largely symbolic - payment for the time and attention given WM brought the issue of money into the art experience. This strategy invited the visitor or passer-by to agree a value and to invest personally into the encounter. It also handed the visitor a certain amount of control as to the amount of investment and the extend of the engagement.
For Press see:
Regine Seipel, “Lustwandeln, White Market führt Besucher durch einen fürstlichen Garten und fragt nach Geld und Kunst” (“Ambling, White Market leads visitors through a royal garden and asks questions about money and Art”), Frankfurter Rundschau, 30th March 2012
Video documentation by Hans-Peter Wollmann, Darmstadt Germany
Photos: Ute Ritschel