A comprehensive record of the London-based art collective BANK's notorious project from the late 1990s, a fierce critic of the language elements of the art market.
"Press releases are genuinely fascinating documents. They're usually unsigned, which is perhaps why they're so often absurdly pompous. But the really interesting thing is, who are they for? Rich collectors, who must be presumed to be stupid and talked to like children? Other gallerists, to show them that they read the backs of theory books too? Artists? Students? Just who is being addressed by these things? The endless nonsense they contained meant that we could be brutally honest about their conceits, assumptions and errors to the point of outright rudeness, under the none-too-convincing cover of offering free advice as to improvements. There was also a hopefully infuriating holier-than-thou tone to the whole project, and a hypocritical undercurrent."
Between 1998 and 1999, BANK operated The BANK Fax-Bak Service. For the project, the group's members, Simon Bedwell, John Russell and Milly Thompson proof-read and copy-edited more than 300 press releases published by galleries in London and New York. The procedure was simple: after adding their mocking corrections, the artists faxed the promotional texts back to the respective galleries. The BANK Fax-Bak Service exposes the art market's (ongoing) sisyphean effort to legitimize itself through boasting, self-important and nonsensical language. Published in collaboration with Treize (Paris), this volume is a comprehensive record of BANK's notorious project from the late 1990s.
BANK was an artists' group fonded in London in 1991 by John Russell and Simon Bedwell, with Dino Demosthenous (who left in 1992) and joined by Milly Thompson, David Burrows and Andrew Williamson in 1993. They curated a series of group shows, often with comical, and sometimes offensive, titles. As a group they adopted an aggressive stance towards the mainstream contemporary art scene of the time.
BANK also published a satirical magazine delivering tabloid-style critiques of the art world.