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critical writing

What’s in a name? SnackArt and The Ekphrastic Agency

About work

This paper tackles the logical consequences of the flawed dialogue and systems of the art world. Adopting neo Fluxus strategies the term ‘art’ is replaced with ‘*Rt’ freeing the way to developing Independent *Rt Tactics as an alternative to artworks. Such tactics, or I*T’s, display reconfigured and reworked Fluxus characteristics. These are identified as Pasquinade, Karnivale, Ludic, Boycotten, Xenia and Sousveillance, and become my strategies to identify *Rt and I*Ts. I then offer my own two independent *Rt tactics, ‘SnackArt’ and ‘The Ekphrastic Agency’, for consideration as a reconfigured dialogue with an audience.

*Rt, tactics, failure,play, gift, agency


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This essay lays out the values of a set of actions in the art world based on the work of Fluxus (and the Situationists) decades ago. The author then describes two projects inspired by these values, which seek to critique, and at least temporarily, escape the commodification rampant in the commercialized art environment today.

Both of the projects, SnackArt and The Ekphrastic Agency, display the low-tech and low-ambition playfulness that distinguished Fluxus work. SnackArt pokes fun at the elite settings of the gallery and the museum, and confronts the viewer with art’s status as commodity in commercial exchange. SnackArt parodies this status, yet may also affirm it – there is a danger here of feeding a cynicism about art that ultimately reinforces the power of the commercial system. Given the importance of the circuit of art “festivals” (read: markets) today, does SnackArt seek to lay bare a dynamic that is actually trumpeted by the art world at this point? It may be most effective with those unfamiliar with the details of art merchandising today – and they would also be the viewers/buyers who might need exposure to SnackArt’s other action, to desacralize art and make it seem more familiar and accessible to non-aficionados. For these visitors, SnackArt’s double goals of accessibility and critique might take hold most fully.

The Ekphrastic Agency succeeds in avoiding confirming the ultimate commodification of art, and works through an emphasis on action rather than material products, contexts rather than commodities, and process more than results – all in keeping with Fluxus’s legacy. TEA reestablishes dialogue in an atmosphere of gifting and intellectual generosity. It does, however, flirt with an elitism that SnackArt avoids – the Agent is positioned as the bestower of knowledge to an ignorant client, which could reinforce hierarchies of knowledge upon which art’s commercial practices depend. How much of this danger is realized can only be determined by watching an Agent in action. How can this be avoided? Can a relationship of mutuality be established within this construct?

Despite these qualms, it is refreshing to seek expertise circulated in a context of gifting and appreciation for art outside of the commercial nexus. Can this dynamic be applied to wider or different spheres of social activity? How might this generate political discussions, social discoveries, or other forays into dialogue with healthier dynamics? Does TEA want to expand into new areas? Perhaps through franchising – now that’s an idea with commercial potential.

--Daniel Marcus

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Well considered and powerful text illustrates and explains in detail the conceptual background of independent tactical project. The complexity of the project and the richness of the text are reflected in interdisciplinary approach that combines the elements and practices of different historical - critical and social - artistic approaches. At the same time text and artwork exceed mentioned art practices, and combines them into a unique artistic intervention - a tool which examines the boundaries of independent art and its practices. The major aim of the each independent art intervention is to subvert the dominant discourse. The power of the dominant discourse lies in his codes by which it regulates. And this text offers a whole range of counter-discourse practices, tactics and strategies: Situationist detournemnet, Bakhtinian carnivalesque, Ludic naivety, Sousveillance, the extension of Mauss' concept of gift practices instead of a commoditized shopping, etc. All these (more or less) innovative artistic strategies, practices and tactics, used by multitude to demonstrate and politicize protest against the system, could be found in writings of Tony Negri. And undoubtedly artistic projects Snack Art and Ekpharistic Agency should be considered as a new creative form of activism against the system of capitalism.

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Entry details


What’s in a name? SnackArt and The Ekphrastic Agency

Concept author(s)

Jane Naylor

Concept author year(s) of birth




Competition category

critical writing

Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

College of Fine Art UNSW PhD