Ximena Garrido-Lecca, The Walls of Progress: Project Country (2011)

Amidst the bright, shiny things one could take home from Frieze to put on your wall was this: a structure of mud, daring collectors to take it back to their bright, shiny homes.

Hand made from adobe bricks and modelled on an original in the highlands of Peru, this sculpture brought the outside world into artworld via the Frieze marquee.

As a 6m wide wall, it echoes the countless partitions which separated the 173 galleries who showed up to sell work. It suggested that was all capitalism amounts to, divisions.

But Project Country also had a resonance from the cultural exterior as well. In the outside world, such walls in Peru demonstrate a close relationship with the earth and veneration for nature.

That’s an angle for the jet-set to consider, for many of whom art is surely a ‘fragment shored against ruins’ of industrial or ecological collapse. In other words, it’s an investment.

And yet exterior is the wrong word. Like 48-sheet posters at the nearest tube, these walls now carry murals advertising consumer brands, or in this case a now-defunct political party.

And just as there might be no escaping the marketplace in the wilds of Peru, so there is no escaping from progressive politics in the heart of a lucrative art fair.

To purchase this crumbling structure from Revolver gallery at the fair would be as absurd a gesture as those tales of Americans shipping home English castles brick by brick.

It would cost a packet and serve as a constant reminder of all those peasants or serfs who cannot buy blue-chip art. And Peruvian or not, that’s most of us.

Project Country could be seen last week at Frieze Art Fair. There’s more about Ximena Garrido-Lecca on her website or in this interview in Momardi blog.

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