Ever Vigilant / Ready Sold

Troy Richards

Ever Vigilant / Ready Sold

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In JCAL gallery: Color prints of T-shirt, Ready Sold logo, rendering of shelving display, and four packaged Ready Sold T-shirts on shelf.

Troy Richards’ Ready Sold looks into the similarities between the Duchampian idea of art-as-choice and the processing industry and trade. The project was designed as a “boutique” to be sited within a Salvation Army thrift store. The “boutique” would contain well-packed clean garments with well-designed labels explaining the concept of the work and the logo on the labels. These goods would appear as new, expensive fashion products, but they would actually be clothing the artist would select and purchase from the thrift store. Through the dry cleaning and packaging of the garments, the artist would add value to the items. This added value would not be a new invention; it would have been present in the clothing from the very start. Examining the process of manufacturing, Ready Sold evolves the concept of art-as-choice and questions if art could be an activity of discovering and revealing the potential value of an object.This project was not realized due to a fire at and the subsequent closing of the proposed thrift store on Jamaica Avenue. Instead, the artist produced Ever Vigilant, a performance piece for Jamaica Flux’s artist reception on October 23, 2004, in which he passed out 500 balloons, each imprinted with an eye, to passersby. A label attached to each balloon read:

“A simple object and an act of acquiescence, the balloon represents the surveillance that we willing (or often unwittingly, but passively) accept everyday. In stores, on streets, in airports, and even on the highway, we are being video taped, watched and scanned constantly in the name of security. Are we safer? Do you feel safer? Before we become too blasé about giving up our right to privacy we should consider just who benefits from this. Is it really being done to make us feel safer? To better serve us?”