ART&COM : Work Displays History / Alix G Camacho Vargas

Thiago Szmrecsányi is an artist, working primarily as a sculptor, who adds new meanings to existing things. Natalia de Campos is a multidisciplinary artist working in performance, video, sound, writing, interactive media, and theater. She is also a producer, educator, and translator.

At the Jamaica Colosseum Mall, a commercial space that started as an indoor flea market and is currently composed of small permanent businesses, Szmrecsányi and Campos create ART&COM : Work Displays History, a temporal business with an artistic orientation. It is a space the artists have built by collecting stories from the vendors as well as materials, such as plastic bags, advertising and other elements that contain brand names, slogans, and photographs from the Jamaica Colosseum Mall. Likewise, they used objects brought from their studio in Manhattan, such as tables, boards, chairs, and materials from previous sculptures and artistic projects. Taking advantage of the existing human capital, Natalia de Campos collects stories of vendors at the mall. Meanwhile, focusing on the physical nature of the space, Thiago Szmrecsányi builds and shows objects related to the particularities of the place.

Interested in the physical, mental, and creative effort embedded both in displaying merchandise and art, Szmrecsányi and Campos attempt to build common ground between vendors and artists. ART&COM serves simultaneously as a space of exchange and a medium for the artists to understand how the mall operates while vendors experience how the artists create and display their works of art. Like any business at the mall, ART&COM assumes a visual identity that consists of a brand name, logo, slogan, and business cards among other things, and explores the aesthetics of improvisation. The objects, images, and other elements displayed in the shop represent exchanges instigated by the artists who are temporarily inhabiting two mall booths.

Focusing on human capital, spatial logic, and alternative models of artistic production, ART&COM highlights micropolitical logic within macro structures. Unlike franchises or large department stores that are ruled by the marketing strategy of spatial and visual unification, the Jamaica Colosseum Mall is the collection of diverse aesthetics developed by vendors and mostly family-owned small businesses. Likewise, Szmrecsányi and Campos subvert the Romanticist logic of an artist as a lone, isolated creator by being open to the transformation of their artistic production according to dynamics, materials, and people in the mall. ART&COM points out the relationship between art and everyday life and gives voice to the creative and political dimensions embedded in both spheres.

Alix G Camacho Vargas