Selections from SInce 1986: Regift

Louise Lawler Regift Swiss Institute John Miller

February 18 – April 4, 2009

with Barbara Bloom, Sophie Calle, Trisha Donnelly, Sam Durant, Maria Eichhorn, Sylvie Fleury, Félix González-Torres, Dan Graham, Renée Green, Fabrice Gygi, Jamie Isenstein, Mike Kelley, Louise Lawler, Leigh Ledare, Sam Lewitt, Allan McCollum, Jeffrey Charles Henry Peacock, Mai-Thu Perret, Walter Robinson, Aura Rosenberg, Jim Shaw, Greg Parma Smith, John Waters, Lawrence Weiner

Curated by John Miller

Continuing our selections from SI’s archive, this week we take a closer look at Regift, a group exhibition curated by artist John Miller that examined the economies of gift exchange. 

New York–based artist John Miller curated this group show of twenty-four artists— largely friends, colleagues, students, and family— who each contributed a work on the subject of gift exchange: a timely topic in the waning months of the recession. Miller was interested in the economic anomaly of a gift exchange, or the idea that it is not completely rational, at least according to a logic of total calculability. “Gift exchange often involves unspoken obligations,” he wrote, “exacted in terms that are mutually understood but nonetheless not completely accountable: emotional, social, hierarchical, and so on.” Some works picked up the scatological humor of Miller’s own oeuvre: John Waters contributed a photograph of a Loser Gift Basket containing a Yanni CD and hemorrhoid cream, among other sundries. But others were research-based and even elegiac:  Mai-Thu Perret’s mushroom cloud–shaped cake is a reproduction of one baked to commemorate the atomic bomb tests in the Bikini Atoll.

Sylvie Fleury, I Love You: Februrary 14, 2009, 2009 Swiss Institute Regift John MIller
Sylvie Fleury, I Love You: Februrary 14, 2009, 2009
Félix González-Torres, Untitled (USA Today), 1990
Regift Installation View
Regift, installation view.
Regift, installation view.