Joe Scanlan (Ohio, 1961) works in the tradition of conceptual art and is interested in processes of transformation: making something from nothing, or transforming something of a perceived value into something of a different value. He continually pushes the limits of meanings —mostly from different cultural and/or social backgrounds— allowing everyday products to be a work of art sometimes but not always, using leftover material from his studio and reinvigorating it. His work stems from a need to find new meaning in labor.
Five years ago, co-curator Karima Boudou Mzouar invited Scanlan to participate in the 5th Marrakesh Biennale. In email exchanges under the French title ‘complex artisanale’ they discussed the location for an art installation that would take place in a building complex in Marrakesh. A literal translation of the title into English changed the meaning of the title, which intrigued Scanlan. Where the French title identifies a space in which crafts take place, the English ‘artisanal complex’ denotes a psychological mental condition related to craftsmanship.
For this exhibition, Scanlan explores the confusion between these terms. On the one hand is the place, the shop where his products can be purchased, while on the other we are witness to the artist’s ‘artisan complex’: the irrepressible urge to be ingenious, to make things, to produce them to the highest possible standard, and offer them for sale.
This exhibition contains paintings with decorative patterns, stretchers, book bags made from Van Laack shirts, a new digital font ‘Palermo’ designed from the elements of Blinky Palermo's ‘Blaue Scheibe und Stab’ (1968), and a publication / tourist shop item based on cubist reliefs by Scanlan’s fictional artist Donelle Woolford, merchandise that was originally intended for the 5th Marrakesh Biennale.