Amie Siegel American

Not on view

Amie Siegel works across film, video, photography and installation. Provenance is a multi-element three-part installation, comprised of two films—the 40-minute long Provenance, and Lot 248, a shorter six minute film that documents the auction of Provenance at Christie's in London—and Proof (Christie's 19 October, 2013), the printer's proof of the Christie's auction catalogue paper for Provenance embedded in Lucite.

The center piece of the installation is the restrained and formally rigorous Provenance, which eschews interviews, voiceovers and other overt narrative cues. Through a series of extended long tracking shots, the work traces how the furniture designed for the city of Chandigarh by Pierre Jeanneret has entered into global circulation, appearing at European and American auctions before entering the homes of wealthy collectors. Siegel presents this narrative in reverse order beginning with the objects in collectors’ homes, moves backwards through their sale on the international auction market, and concludes in Chandigarh itself, where the furniture is seen at government offices in situ. Siegel’s camera finds the Jeanneret chairs and shelving units so prized in the West in India simply as functional—totally divorced from any consideration of them elsewhere as coveted luxury objects.

The focus of Siegel’s film is not really the original act of displacement and how the objects left Chandigarh and appeared on the international auction market (which was incidentally due to the dealings of French antiques dealer Eric Touchaleaume), but instead is more preoccupied with what the afterlife of the Chandigarh furniture symbolizes. Siegel is concerned with how economic value, the desirability of an object, and notions of heritage and cultural memory are subjective, arbitrary and wholly dependent on its social context and framing.

The arbitrary and sometimes opaque economic dealings of the unregulated markets of art and design of Siegels’ concern is further underscored by the other two components of the installation that document and present the auctioning of her own work. A meta, self-reflexive move in which a work that documents the market is shown entering into that market, this act acknowledges and implicates the artist herself, her own participation and involvement in the perpetuation of these markets and the circulation of global wealth and capital.

Provenance, Amie Siegel (American, born Chicago, Illinois, 1974), Single-channel digital video, color, sound, 40 min., 30 sec.

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