Objet d’Art: Swap at the Museum

Published December 14, 2015

Every month, Interview picks an artist or designer created object that straddles the line between aesthetics and function. Subdued tastes need not apply.


There are a few ways we might mentally categorize the array of belongings strewn in our lives, from useful to arbitrary to totally obstructive. But some things transcend all that, their presence evoking emotions and memories of relationships, places, losses or revelations. For a one time only event tonight at the New Museum’s Lobby Gallery, Mexican artist Pia Camil has put out an open invitation for anyone willing to give away such an item in exchange for a limited edition sweatshirt she designed for the occasion. Pictured above, it reads: “Xchange Certificate for the Donation of [object name] by contributor [edition number]/100 New Museum, NYC.”

This is the first in a series of exchanges that will reconvene next year on February 7, after Camil’s first New York solo presentation titled “A Pot for a Latch” opens at the museum. Until then, the collected items will be stored in an installation inspired by the rows of standardized street vendor stands in downtown Mexico City, near Camil’s home. To echo this in a museum context, the artist designed gridwall panels affixed with hooks and shelves, generally used in store displays.

Camil’s work and performances, which she has exhibited internationally, tend to “draw inspiration from the urban landscape of Mexico City, responding to and transforming the remnants of urban ruin,” explains the curator, Margot Norton. “Her works expose the inherent problems as well as tap into the latent aesthetic potential within dysfunctional consumer culture.”

In the public invitation, Camil bids us to “Bring objects of power, of aesthetic interest, and of poignancy.” But be wary: “Only items that meet the criteria will be accepted,” says Norton. 

THE INAUGURAL EXCHANGE DAY IN ADVANCE OF “A POT FOR A LATCH,” IN WHICH VISITORS CAN TRADE A PERSONAL ITEM FOR A  SWEATSHIRT, TAKES PLACE TONIGHT, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2015, AT THE NEW MUSEUM BETWEEN 5-9PM, OR WHEN ALL THE SWEATSHIRTS HAVE BEEN EXCHANGED. SUBSEQUENT EXCHANGE DAYS WILL TAKE PLACE ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7, FROM 2-4PM; SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21, FROM 2-4PM; SUNDAY, MARCH 6, FROM 2-4PM; SUNDAY, MARCH 20, FROM 2-4PM; AND SUNDAY, APRIL 3, FROM 2-4PM. “A POT FOR A LATCH” OFFICIALLY OPENS JANUARY 13 AND WILL BE ON VIEW THROUGH APRIL 17, 2016.

Objet D’Art runs every month. For more, click here.