Jason File: An Ornament and a Safeguard
29 April 2015 - 6 June 2015
Wed - Sat, 12 - 6pm
Private view: 29 April, 6 to 9pm
The RYDER is pleased to present “An Ornament and a Safeguard”, a solo exhibition by American-British artist Jason File. The exhibition aims to show, as transparently as possible, the “total potential value” of a monetary art prize to an early-career artist, while also destabilizing the identity of contemporary currency as a pure symbol of exchange value. The exhibition is entirely funded by the Mead Fellowship for graduates of the University of the Arts London, which the artist was awarded in 2014.
Expending £4,999.00 of the £5,000.00 grant on legitimate exhibition costs intended to maximise the exposure value of the award, File will display the ephemera generated by this process in the form of a physical “balance sheet” ranging from documentation of the costs* to evidence of the value produced, including a published catalogue and, the potential acquisition of the installation. Even this press release, to the extent that its development and distribution requires an expenditure and generates attendance and/or press coverage, will be included somewhere in the balance sheet of the exhibition.
Titled using the English translation of the Latin phrase “Decus et tutamen” commonly found on the edge of a contemporary British one pound sterling coin, the exhibition will also present the remaining one pound coin, invested in a sense with the remaining value of his prize money and acquiring the added value of its new condition as a work of art. Electing to conserve a coin for display in this manner, File poses questions about the symbolic, commodity, and exchange values of both currency and works of art, and the complex and often fraught relationship between the two. The display of a single coin in the gallery space harnesses the pathways of belief-creation that exist in the art world and uses them to destabilize the fixed exchange value of currency, replacing it with a new value that emphasizes the materiality of the coin as an aesthetic object.
Taking into account the art market’s almost alchemic power, File has observed that “perhaps only in the art world can a £1 coin be legitimately offered for sale for £10,000”
(* labour, materials, space, time, travel and transportation, and publicity such as dinners for selected critics, curators, journalists and collectors and fees for authors and speakers)
Download 'Exhibition Rules' here
Jason File (b.1976, Marquette, Michigan, USA) is an American-British artist, university lecturer in fine art, and war crimes prosecutor who lives and works in The Hague, Netherlands. He holds degrees in fine art from the Chelsea College of Arts, London, and the Royal Academy of Art, Netherlands (2013), where he currently teaches. He also holds degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and law from Yale (1998), Oxford (2000) and Yale Law School (2004). File’s work has been recognized through collections and awards, including the Zabludowicz Collection Future Map Prize (2014) (selected by Anita Zabludowicz, David Blandy and Skye Sherwin), the Mead Fellowship, University of the Arts London (2014), and selection as ArtPrize Juried Grand Prize Finalist (USA, 2014, selected by Hrag Vartanian) and Celeste Prize selected artist (Italy, 2014, selected by Andrew Hunt). Solo and two-person exhibitions and projects include Stroom, The Hague (2015), Ovalhouse, London (2014), and X Marks the Bökship, London (2011). Group exhibitions include: Grand Rapids Art Museum, USA (2014); International Print Biennale, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle (2014); SPACE Studios, London (2014); Atelierhaus der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien, Vienna (2014). Forthcoming projects include co-curating a group exhibition at GEMAK in The Hague. Download CV
Jason File, An Ornament and a Safeguard, 2015.
Jason File, An Ornament and a Safeguard, 2015 (Panel 1 of 4). Documents, display case, torch on thread
Jason File, An Ornament and a Safeguard, 2015 (detail)
Jason File, An Ornament and a Safeguard, 2015, installation view