|Cream, London: Phaidon Press, 1998, essay by Carlos Basualdo, pp. 224-227.|
Promised Relations is an exhibition. an artwork and a succint but substantial poetic essay on the relation between society and contemporary art. First and foremost, it is a collection in the form of a booklet of artists' contracts from the recent past with a line-up of signatories including the likes of Yves Klein, Ed Kienhoz, Komar and Melamid, Marcel Broodthaers and Paula Hays. The Klein text, for example, is the script of a piece for theatre (from the artis's Theatre of the Void, Sunday, 27 November. 1960), where in two audiences - one real, one composed of actors - take up the positions of two parties in a contract. Paula Hayes signs an agreement with a New York Gallery for the construction of a work that turns out to be a garden. Komar and Melamid, meanwhile, draw up a contract for the sale and purchase of sould. Another is the draft of a contract conceived in the early 1970s for legendary American curator and pioneer gallerist Seth Siegelaub and lawyer Bob Projansky, who specialized in artists' rights regarding the sale of an artwork. As we can read in Kinmont's pamphlet, this contract would go on to achieve a certain degree of influence in Californian legislation.
This collection of contracts makes for an oblique and ingenious exhibition of the earlier works with which they are concerned. Among Kinmont's selection criteria was that the contract should include information on the piece that was not readily detectable in the artwork itself. When brought together the contracts act as a sort of frame for the works to which they refer, pointing to certan determining featurs taht tie beyound their material qualities and their funtion as show pieces. (Reading between the lines in the book there is a subtle homage to Siegelaub and his work as a curator with specific reference to his concept of exhibitions that take place exclusively in catalogue form.) On the other hand, as a project, Promised Relations draws on recent history to explore the system of mutual over-determination that underpins the links between art, exchange and legitimacy. Additionally (and this, in the final analysis, is the same thing) it is a reflection on the ever-fluctuating confines between teh art institution and everyday life.