Artists Bearing Gifts

Esther Polak

Esther Polak, photo by Ivar van Bekkum, 2013.

Project Summary

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes[1]

This book project proposes to rethink contemporary art practice in light of the gift, taking as its starting point Marcel Mauss’s notion of the gift as a “total institution” that irrigates territories cultivated by economics, politics, religion, and aesthetics. To what extent do protocols of gift exchange shape not only art forms and works in the making, but artists themselves, their values and goals? What compels audiences, and other artists, to accept these gifts and move them on?

[1] Virgil, Aeneid II, 49.

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