London – For the 2014 Frieze Art Fair, New York collective Shanzhai Biennial created an installation that tested the boundaries between art and advertising.
The project was centred on the group’s efforts to sell a £32m (€40m, $51.8m) house in a prime Northwest London location, a real listing given to Shanzhai Biennial for Frieze by estate agents Aston Chase.
A video created for the project, 100 Hamilton Terrace, includes slow lingering interior shots that present the house as an object of almost erotic desire. Print ads for the listing feature models arranged in poses inspired by Chinese socialist propaganda and branding directly ripped off from Frieze. Chinese text contains slogans such as ‘Only by thoroughly demolishing the man-eating system can the working people be emancipated’.
With recent revelations that London homes were being marketed first to buyers in Hong Kong, many visitors to the show were aware of the politically charged status of property in the capital.
One might read this as a critique of capitalism, but Shanzhai Biennial co-founder Babak Radboy actually intends to elevate advertising as an art form, albeit in his group’s typical cryptic style. ‘Maybe we do not want to appear as if we are only pretending to be insincere?’ Radboy tells LS:N Global. ‘This is my basic theory of advertising: that it pretends to be not about money to hide the fact that it isn’t about money.’
Go to LS:N Global’s Shows section for a full review of Frieze London 2014.