Investing in Social Art Projects – artmarketblog.com
A new project called Trust Art (http://www.trustart.org) which is described as “A stock market for cultural renewal” has recently been launched by the founders of Fame Game (http://www.famegame.com). According to the Fame Game website “FAME GAME is a rapidly-growing website that maps and analyzes your social connections and media attention to help you promote meaningful ideas, people, and organizations in culture. FAME GAME creates public-facing “social network” profiles for the 150,000+ most visible players in the New York media based on their cultural footprint”. The Fame Game mission is to mission to figure out how these players work together in the real world, and bring that model online which can then be used to give emerging artists, business leaders and personalities information about the way people use their fame to get attention for the things that they care about. The driving force of Fame Game and also of Trust Art is the concept of Social Capital which is defined as the pattern and intensity of networks among people and the shared values which arise from those networks.
The Trust Art project is a sort of interactive art fund that gives people the opportunity to invest their money in one of ten social art projects by ten different artists. Shares in each of the projects are available for $1 each with a minimum investment of $1 and no maximum investment although I presume that the most money anyone would want to invest would be the total cost of the project. The money invested goes towards the completion of the project as outlined by the artist on the Trust Art website. Once the project is completed, the finished work is auctioned off and the proceeds are split 50/50 between the artist and the share holders. All investors are encouraged to promote the project that they have invested in so that more people invest money and so that the project receives media attention and becomes more popular. The idea behind the promotion side of the concept is that promoting the project and increasing it’s popularity will increase it’s value and the return to shareholders once the work is auctioned off.
The biggest problem that I can see with the whole Trust Art concept is the works of art themselves which are not exactly what one would consider to be investment grade works of art. Each of the ten proposed works are more what I would call conceptual installations that are the sort of works people go to see at museums or at public galleries and not the sort of works that people invest in. As an example, one of the artists, Facundo Newbery, will construct a self-sufficient home solely out of garbage and shipping containers collected from the streets of Brooklyn. Throughout the project and after its completion, Facundo will offer a transparent look into his techniques for recycling urban waste so that others may do the same. The object (auction artifact) that will be auctioned is listed as a handmade home in the tropics which doesn’t really seem like something that many people would be interested in purchasing. Other “auction artifacts” include a dance performance, a video installation, 5 photographic portraits, an antique fountain repurposed to flow with perfumed water and an original building facade reimagined by street artists. The other problem with the project is that the artists themselves aren’t really all that well known but I suppose the purpose of the site is to enlist the help of the investors to make the artists and their work well known.
Of all the projects the most viable, most tangible and most investment worthy is “The Documentary Starring Everyone in the World” by Jason Eppink. According to the Trust Art website “Jason will collect and assemble an extensive photographic database, the contents of which resemble the age and appearance of the world’s 6 billion people. The images are then assembled into a documentary that plays 9 images per frame and runs over the course of two and a half weeks in various global locations” The object that will be auctioned is a video installation representing 6.7 billion people. Several of Eppink’s past projects such as “Pixelator” and “Take a Seat” have been very successful and received plenty of press attention which is a good sign for potential investors. You can see more of Jason Eppink’s work at http://www.jasoneppink.com
For more information on the Trust Art project visit http://www.trustart.org
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.