Touched Paper


In my mind the price of an object does not equate to the value of that object. Turk’s quote implies that a numerical value, representing the financial cost, has become the label which defines an object not only as a good quality piece of art, but as a piece of art at all. As I will explain later, Turk has gone too far in suggesting that cost is the key factor in deciding the fundamental definition of an object. However, he has recognized that the value of the work is ascribed by something external to the work itself. Perhaps this can be traced back to Duchamp. His “ready-mades championed the idea that art can be produced without technical skill. The concept and the context, was, for the first time, the focus of the attention for the audience and critic. I think we are still buying into the idea that value is ascribed by something abstract, a concept, a context, a price label, not necessarily something tangible or visual.

This is a theme of Harris’ work. At The Free Art Fair Peter Harris exhibited a piece entitled A4 piece of paper touched by Damien Hirst and signed by Peter Harris. The aesthetic of the artwork is not stimulating; it is only a piece of paper, signed by Peter Harris. Harris is asking us to look beyond the object to the ideas behind the work. Hirst’s touch is not visible, we don’t even know if he actually touched the paper. Harris asks us to consider whether our belief in the touch of Hirst, something separate to the work entirely, is enough to give this piece value. I state below that value has historically been placed on an object because of an abstract belief in what it represents, but in contemporary art, is that all we have to go on?