Side Hustle: Alternative Art as Social Practice cont…(artist examples)

N.E Thing Co Ltd. 

Iain and Ingrid Baxter  (1966–1978)

“By making life more interesting for others, we may indirectly help to alleviate the human condition. We up your aesthetic quality of life, we up your creativity. We celebrate the ordinary.”

“It is the visual Unknown that challenges the N.E. Thing researchers.”


Like a complex but ghostly shell company, NETCO had various departments and sub-departments: ANTs [Aesthetically Neutral Things], ARTs [Aesthetically Rejected Things] and ACTs [Aesthetically Claimed Things]. They took the artist collective beyond a dry conceptualism  into psychogeography, retail shops, an Eye Scream restaurant, and pee-wee hockey team sponsorship.


Contemporaries of the Situationists, NETCO operated with different aims. While tSI “saw everyday life as a site of revolutionary potential to be liberated through aggressive reversals and combative tactics of negation”, NETCO proposed an agency that was expansive, inclusive and celebratory, which playfully questioned their roles as entrepreneurs, artists, educators, parents and spouses, collapsing and infecting systemic boundaries in order to reinvestigate the elusive and taken-for-granted.

Excerpts from a great interview with Ingrid Baxter in Art in America:

Legally incorporated in 1969, N.E. Thing Co. had all the trappings of a commercial enterprise: official titles for its chief officers, bland stationery, a byzantine organizational structure with departments and sub-departments, and official seals for authenticating paperwork. But rather than merely aping the aesthetics of administration, N.E. Thing Co. was more like a shell company, an elaborate front that its founders used to raise broad questions about the nature of art, temporality, representation and language.

WILLIAM S. SMITH When did you decide to incorporate?

INGRID BAXTER It goes back to when we first moved to Vancouver in the early 1960s. We came upon various artists who were working in their various modes. We started thinking that names on things could get to be limiting…. But we had ideas of doing a variety of types of projects. One of the best ways to pursue all of our different ideas was to create a company that would have different departments. There was a research department, a projects department, a photo department, a things department and so on. We had divisions for ANTs [Aesthetically Neutral Things], ARTs [Aesthetically Rejected Things] and ACTs [Aesthetically Claimed Things]. They were all fabricated for whatever purpose we wanted at the time. Then we could make or propose many kinds of projects. So it was from an aesthetic point of view that we created N.E. Thing Company, not a corporate point of view.

Further reading:

Siting the Banal: The Expanded Landscapes of the N.E. Thing Co by Nancy Shaw

Monumental Garage Sale

by Martha Rosler



In 1973, Martha Rosler held her first Garage Sale at the Art Gallery of the University of California, called the Monumental Garage Sale. Clothing, books, toys, and household items were sold alongside personal items such as the artist’s private letters; her son’s baby shoes; and, more unconventionally, used diaphragms.

Rosler describes the sale as “an art form of contemporary society”. During the sale she dressed as a Southern Californian hippie. Playing in the background was an audio track of this character “pondering how the garage sale evokes systems of value and quoting Marx on commodity fetishism.”

In its latest iteration, the garage sale, this time entitled Meta-Monumental Garage Sale, was held in the atrium of MoMA in 2012.


by Dirk Fleischmann

“Since 1997 I have been creating a business conglomerate. The art projects create profit, which I have been continuously re-investing completely. This means the projects themselves create the budget for my next artistic investment.”


Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaft

by Maria Eichhorn (Public Limited Company)


via Brooklyn Rail:

Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaft began its life in December 2002, as both a corporation and a work of art. Upon an invitation from Okwui Enwezor to participate in Documenta 11, Maria Eichhorn founded an Aktiengesellschaft, or public limited company. As is typical of such entities, the newly created firm was in her own name. It held a 50,000 euros portion of Documenta’s exhibition budget—divided into 50,000 shares of a euro apiece—meeting the minimum requirement of subscribed capital for an Aktiengesellschaft. Such companies’ assets are typically distributed into shares that are traded to increase capital, while creditors make claims upon the corporation as a legal person, exempting individual shareholders from personal risk and liability.

Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaftmimetically uses the structure of the corporation against itself. The artist remains its sole managing board member and initial shareholder; she transferred all shares of the company to itself, to be held in perpetuity. The corporation belongs to itself, or, in Eichhorn’s words, “it ultimately belongs to no one,” and “the concept of property disappears in this case.”1 This is because the assets of Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaft are neither invested nor circulated, and do not accrue interest for the company’s shareholders, as set forth in the company’s Articles of Association.2 This removal of cash from monetary circulation and capital accumulation inhibits the typical function of public limited companies, namely the ability to generate surplus value and accrue profit with minimal risk. The continued existence of Eichhorn’s work is subject to renewals of the company and its board, and its endurance to date has relied on a supporting—and now, collecting—art institution.

Cornershop Projects

(formerly St. George Marsh)

Cornershop Projects was a collaborative space for activities. It was an open framework for engaging with economic exchange.


Located in a former corner store, Cornershop hosts, initiates, and encourages projects that examine the possibilities of transactions including, but not limited to: buying, selling, begging, borrowing, stealing, renting, owning, bartering, downsizing, unionizing, transnationalizing, securitizing, blackmarketing, etc…

One of my favourite projects was their counterfeiting workshop… where they used “actual counterfeiting equipment to replicate information encoded on the magnetic strip of any debit card with a magnetically encoded stripe.” The workshop had a rock star theme.


The Candahar Barby Theo Sims


During the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Presentation House Gallery staged The Candahar Bar off-site on Granville Island. The project was a recreation of a Belfast public house. It was  part sculpture, part theatrical stage, and for seventeen days the backbone and backdrop for an ambitious series of nightly events. The Candahar had been installed in Canada on four previous occasions, in Calgary, Montreal, Winnipeg and St. John.

From Canadian Art:

Sims collaborated with Rebecca Belmore who declared The Candahar open to “Indians only,” to whom the Roddys served liquor for the first hour and a half on opening night, and only water with lemon slices to everyone who was kept waiting outside. The bar was packed. Many in in the non-native crowd lined up to get in were not pleased. But others felt conflicting emotions, which is how Sims hoped they would feel.

“Rebecca Belmore’s piece struck a parallel to the universal experience of oppressed communities,” says Sims, “same as in London bars with signs saying ‘No blacks, no dogs, no Irish,’ but it’s also a reclamation or owning of it, too … There is all that history that can’t be denied.

further reading:

In Canada, an Artwork With Its Own Barkeeps By

Reena Spaulings

Reena Spaulingsis a fictional artist, performer and art dealer. Behind the Spaulings name stands an international array of artists assembled for the exhibition by the collective known as the Bernadette Corporation.

Case Study:

Venue: Indipendenza Studio, Rome

Exhibition Title: More Michael Paintings

Date: October 27, 2011 – January 14, 2012

As with many of Reena Spaulings exhibitions and works become an index of the mechanics of the artworld. In this exhibition “Michael” revisits Yves Klein living paintbrush paintings. The marble works were produced in collaboration with an Italian collector who traded artworks for materials and production. The artist/gallerist finds ways of extracting material images from the specific economies and relationships in which she is implicated.

Tough Guy Mountain

Website Description:

Tough Guy Mountain is an ongoing project focusing on the glories, trials, and absurdity of late capitalism. As an artist collective of over a dozen members, TGM creates “total works of art”, presentations of capitalist aesthetic and consumer culture. TGM creates narrative performances where the collective plays a fantastical corporation that treats Art as another client.

Intern Relief Initiative

Everyday, Art Businesses like Tough Guy Mountain create internships for Gifted, Unique, Individuals. In a competitive labor environment, those internships can be the only chance for those individuals to gain valuable hands-on experience from inside the industry.

Internships supplement, and even replace, the career preparation traditionally provided by school. However, our society lacks a precedent of how to facilitate these programs, which occupy the space between education and work. Recently, Internship programs at major Canadian magazines have been shut down by the government, after regulators deemed them in violation of employment standards.

Rebuild Foundation

Founded and led by Theatre Gates

Art 21 Video link

Rebuild Foundation is located in the south side of Chicago and is a platform for art, cultural development, and neighbourhood transformation.

From their website:

Our projects support artists and strengthen communities by providing free arts programming, creating new cultural amenities, and developing affordable housing, studio, and live-work space.

Our mission is to make art matter more by demonstrating the impact of innovative, ambitious and entrepreneurial arts and cultural initiatives. Our work is informed by three core values: black people matter, black spaces matter, and black things matter.

We leverage the power and potential of communities, buildings, and objects that others have written off.

further reading:

Theaster Gates Builds a House Museum by David Balzer in Canadian Art

Paloma Powers


Paloma Powers describes herself as a futurist art agitator. Paloma Powers is a creative agency developing innovating arts-driven solutions and works in the realms of Art Direction, Event Planning, Curation, and Branding amongst others.

from her website:

Paloma Powers and her international associates in New York, Los Angeles, and Shanghai are on a mission to reclaim the quality, endurance, and subversiveness that has been steadily sacrificed to cultural ubiquity.  Her team is dedicated to the highest standards of aesthetics for a purposeful life with artists at the helm of designing solutions for the home, the office, the retail space, the public space, the screen, and every surface of contemporary life.

During the Berlin Biennial she opened The Flora Powers Shop  – “a portable exhibition of floral arrangements created by artists who share an interest in the domestic environment, design, and questions of taste and consumption”


“Squish Vessel” by Rachel de Joode


“The Humble Origins of Bob the Pigeon” by Amalia Ulman

Her IG is flawless.

Conflict Kitchen

by Dawn Weleski and Jon Rubin


From their website:

Conflict Kitchen is a restaurant that serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, publications, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus region. The restaurant rotates identities in relation to current geopolitical events.

Their current kitchen is serving food from the Haudenosaunee peoples – also known as the Iroquois League or League of the Five Nations.


They do a ton of outreach projects and public programming. For example, they have guests contribute to their IG account.

Wood Land School

composed of Duane Linklater, Tanya Lukin Linklater, cheyanne turions with Walter Scott

Wood Land School was begun in 2011 in North Bay Ontario. For 2017, Wood Land School  will take over SBC Gallery in Montreal with a variety of programming: exhibitions, talks, readings, conversation and other public events.

from their website:

Wood Land School is an experimental space where Indigenous thought and theory are centred, embodied, mobilized, and take shape as practice through exhibition and pedagogy. Wood Land School does not seek to summarize Indigenous identity, but rather to honour specific, embodied expressions of inheritance and becoming.

Wood Land School is an ongoing project with no ?xed location or form. It seeks critical engagements within the realms of representation, ?lm, contemporary art, land and politics in Turtle Island and beyond. Each iteration of Wood Land School carries forth with it a commitment to address the lack of structural inclusion, both historically and in the now, in a multiplicity of institutional spaces. It is a conceptual and physical space for Indigenous people, with Indigenous people deciding its directions, structures and functions. An important and vital component of the structure of Wood Land School since its beginning is the inclusion of non-Indigenous people into its fabric.

daphneodjig3Wood Land School: Thunderbird Woman

As an example, in the summer of 2016, Duane Linklater and curator Jaimie Isaac led a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants through a series of texts, films, field trips and studio time for three weeks in Winnipeg at Plug In ICA.  Daphne Odjig’s Thunderbird Woman [left] was used as symbolic starting point. For Linklater and Isaac, the work “articulates Indigenous agency, the roles of guardianship and protection, and the notion of transformation.”

Guest Room Digital Residency

The Guest Room Digital Residency Program is operated by and located in the attic space of, a project by Rachel Stuckey initiated in 2014.


(Guest Room occupied by Josh Keeney June 4 – June 18, 2016. Guest Room snapshot and animated GIF.)

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