“Art is the expression of joy in labor rather than an exclusive luxury.“ – William Morris
“Ms. Hill’s installation neatly blurs, and mocks as improbable, distinctions drawn between art and business, and offers instead a laid-back model of art-as-business.” – Holland Cotter, The New York Times, March 6, 2009 [on “The Armory Apothecary“ at Armory Show 2009]
Ronald Feldman Fine Arts is pleased to present Christine Hill’s latest work in a solo exhibition entitled Small Business opening November 10, 2012. Small Business will be the state-side branch of Hill’s storefront workspace in Berlin and the latest iteration of her long-running proprietorship of Volksboutique, the multi-faceted production label Hill founded there in 1996.
The day-to-day activity of Hill’s entrepreneurial exchanges is represented by her Small Business Model (2012), a scaled-up Kaufladen, or model store, based on the popular German children’s toy of the same name bearing similarity to American role-playing toys such as KidKraft Play Kitchens™. Small Business Model takes Hill’s ongoing study of the structure, ethics, and behaviors of small business enterprise as its focus. A custom inventory arranged along built-in shelves is labeled with detailed taxonomies and assigned meanings and priority. The labels and arrangement of these shop goods forms a three-dimensional glossary of better business practice. “I think about the divisions like phrenological mapping…how thoughts and priorities are structured. I love that an inventory structure can shift and evolve and that contemporary concerns can be treated like wares on display and as a supply for a certain demand. People can peruse the items for elements they recognize in their own lives,” says Hill. A shop counter complete with cash register and package shipping scale delineates the wall between audience and shopkeeper. Visitors are invited to enter Small Business Model, “play” the role of the shop-keeper and to pose as the Proprietor for personal snapshots and effectively test out how they might themselves keep shop.
Small Business Model is accompanied by a collection of shop-related sample boards, advertisements, and paraphernalia carefully labeled and displayed. These objects are situated not only as elements of exchange and value but also as visual representations of commerce, a force in our day-to-day lives.
Hill has examined intersections between small business and art throughout her 20-year career. Previous projects include the original Volksboutique, a second hand clothing shop sited in Berlin-Mitte for one year and subsequently featured at documenta X in 1997; Tourguide?, a walking tour agency of SoHo NYC, produced by The Public Art Fund in 1999; and Minutes, a suite of five custom-made steamer trunk time capsules filled with paraphernalia used in a variety of sole-proprietor tasks (Management, Reception, Public Relations, Accounting and Production) exhibited at the 2007 Venice Biennale. For her solo booth hosted by Feldman Gallery at the Armory Show in New York in 2009, Hill created the Volksboutique Armory Apothecary, the first state-side iteration of her Berlin-based shop complete with intimate consultations and metaphorical remedies prescribed by the artist for visitors.
Hill’s long-term installation Hotel Volksboutique (a functional, rentable hotel suite) will open at the GFZK Leipzig in Fall 2012. Past public art commissions include The Henry Moore Foundation Contemporary Projects, the NGBK, Berlin, Creative Time and The Public Art Fund. Hill’s monographs, Inventory (Hatje Cantz 2003) and Minutes (Hatje Cantz 2007), feature essays by Lucy R. Lippard and the author Rick Moody, as well as Hill’s own writing. The artist has exhibited projects at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; Serpentine Gallery, London; GFZK, Leipzig; MoMA, New York; Kunst-Werke, Berlin; MassMOCA; The Brooklyn Museum of Art; capcBordeaux and migrosmuseum, Zurich.
Hill was appointed Professor and Chair of Media, Trend & Public Appearance at the Bauhaus University in Weimar in 2004. She opened the Volksboutique Small Business shop at the current location on Choriner Strasse 51 in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg in October 2010.