Jim Lodge powered by monochrom
In 1985 a number of Austrian and German artists (Jörg Schlick, Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen and Wolfgang Bauer) had an idea over late-night schnapps to found an "art lodge". They birthed it as "Lord Jim Lodge" and created a slogan (Nobody Helps Nobody) and a logo (Sun Breasts Hammer), with the intention that the logo should become more well-known than that of Coca-Cola. This, we might say, was a somewhat classic way of being stuck in the powerlessness of 1980ies-antiart-art. The members of the lodge used the logo on many of their artworks and tried to distribute it that way. Martin Kippenberger -- who became one of the bestselling German artists of the 20th century only after his death in 1997 -- used it on his installations and self-portraits. The Lodge was quite active, at one moment even publishing a low-circulation magazine, but after Kippenberger's death a growing disinterest of the other members the Lodge seemed to predominate. It seems the project had been charged with high symbolic capital, but low in effort. So in 2005 Jörg Schlick invited members of the group monochrom to a talk and informed them about a severe sickness then over-taking him - essentially indicating that he can't take care of the Lodge any longer. He asked monochrom to use it and to do more projects, to "let it rock". monochrom thought about the concept of "rocking" and had the idea of a "hostile take-over", of "restarting the Lodge", creating "franchises", "profit-maximizing" the prestitious brand that nobody cared about in a long time. monochrom created a fake art-consulting company called Teyssandier-Springer that would represent the "investment group monochrom". Teyssandier-Springer called in a press conference in Berlin and invited journalists and people from the art world. Teyssandier-Springer reported that they had sent out letters to all the important museums and galleries worldwide (like MOMA, etc.) containing the information that monochrom had bought all the Lodge's rights including the trademark rights for the logo - and monochrom is now investigated as exploiting possible infringements of the trademark. Many extremly valueable artworks would feature the logo -- including Kippenberger's beststelling paintings. So monochrom asserted its rights to proportionate financial remuneration for the use of its intellectual property and that the group intended to take legal action to ensure compliance. The responding letters and telephone calls were dominated by the wish for "a settlement out of court", for example gallery X in Y: "Our associate, Mr. Z, will contact you regarding a more exact appraisal of the sum involved." The media reported about the "legal art crisis". The process caused big trouble in the so-called "art world". This was an interesting effect, because it seemed to indicate that that "art world" was not at all briefed about something like "copy/trademark rights". The rumor geysers didn't stop. The "profit-oriented group monochrom" wanted to speed up business and took part in an art contest called "Coca Cola Light Art Edition", mainly because the members remembered that one of the original ideas of the Lodge was to beat Coca-Cola in the mass market of signs. monochrom stamped the logo onto a piece of paper, sent in the application and won. The logo was printed on 50.000 bottles of Coca-Cola Light and the group got 5000 euros of prize money. Not a bad performance for six months of business activity. monochrom sought out a possibility to present their "market leadership" and chose the format of twelve oil paintings. monochrom created twelve photoshop files and sent them to China. Guo Cun Can, a Chinese painter painted them in oil (140x100cm) in three weeks, sent them back to Europe and charged 2500 euros. monochrom is now selling them for 4500 euros per piece. Guo Cun Can will get a big portion of the sales, and will probably live from it for a long, long time. China, the biggest copy market in the world, is not only interested in copying Harry Potter books, DVDs or Nike shoes, they are also reproducing paintings. Here we meet professional faker, forgers, copiers... at least as long as capitalist economics of low labour costs allows it. But that's another story, isn't it?
Exhibition: May 15 thru June 15, 2007; Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Wien.
monochrom - for all tomorrow’s partners