Night Market Vol. 1 is the first in a series of interventions exploring the bootleg as a distorted mirror of global Capital. Housed in the reconfigurable space of a gallery-cum-market and reflecting our mass-produced ambitions and nostalgias, the exhibited works command a chorus of unauthorized voices, which mutate around familiar and established characters and brands.
Any object of commodity follows a predictable curve: a spike in the market carves out room for a shadow economy of knock-offs, which allows consumers to engage or possess something they might not otherwise have access to. These, in turn, become objects of desire - performing an oblique dance with narratives of authenticity, visibility, and recognition which challenge the defined boundaries and definitions imposed by mass branding.
The thrill of possession and performance inherent to branding and retail is amplified by the slightly shady peculiarity of an unofficial copy or a back-alley supply chain, and fan-made media has the ability to destabilise the canon by altering or adding to the original storyline. This ultimately reflects demand; knockoffs exist in symbiotic dependence with the luxury brands, which need them in order to demonstrate insatiable, and wildfire desirability.
Unauthorized markets and other alternative sales outlets occupy a dual role in the commodity ecosystem of liquidating excess and steering it outside its intended audience. In particular, Western monoliths of branding and the conditions of material production that evince specific global hierarchies are both fed and disrupted by such vendors and their wares, which endlessly permutate a brand's reach while revealing inherent flaws and artifice.
As a creative practise, bootlegging suggests a poetic disregard for the norms of status-enforcing systems, negotiating class differences by adapting media and materials in inventive ways that resist the use value of the original, and using capital to do things it wasn't designed to do. Fan sites are more interesting than official ones, released albums are never as cool as their unofficial versions, and knockoff fashion hits the mark in ways the originals can only hint at; as a shape shifting shadow of something authentic, a bootleg says more than an original ever could.
The works assembled here act as material remainders that exceed the parameters of a given historical moment or even a given material artifact; vibrating across leylines of collective memory and affect, they unleash the potential to alter hegemonic aesthetic forms. Half-doppelganger and half-thief, we signal the death of the legitimate form while paradoxically engaging its aura as a signpost of pure desire.
Night Market vol.1 presents a collection of such forms - illicit, janked up, unauthorized, and immeasurably alluring. Everything you could possibly want starts here: under moonlit awning, illuminated in faint glow.