the genesis of KMart

a younger me

aYoungerMe 1989

kirk miller art

Kirk Miller art (aka KMart) resulted from artwork I did in the late 80's and early 90's that addressed the relationship between art and economics. Many of these works were in an exhibition (titled "Take Over") and shown in Los Angeles, New York, and Milan. A synopsis of the catalogue (below), which accompanied this exhibition, explains how and why KMart came to be. The number sixty-six was added later when I acquired an email address. Kmart (the store) was already taken, so I added the number sixty-six, my home address, which just happened to be close to a section of the historic Route 66. Making a connection between my home and email address, and Route 66 with the "information super highway," just seemed to make sense.

take over

American culture spreads as if in ether, towards an inextricable mixture of all values ethical, aesthetic, spiritual combined into one: economics. What relates or distinguishes one thing from another - a painting from a car, a postage stamp from a record album, reading a book from spending an afternoon by the pool - is its price, its market value, its purchase and exchange power for the consumer. It makes no difference if a young person is an artist or not; what matters is business. Kirk Miller art (KMart) will focus its attention on world economics, addressing the concepts of money, advertising, and the mass scale of art-making. KMart will appropriate the iconography of business as well as mathematical values (which inevitably oscillate according to cost) from common sales tactics and the politics of everyday life. The second level of the exhibition will implement true business strategies through absolute politik - that is, through the works on exhibit. KMart is an artist who has renounced the individuality of his own signature and the uniqueness of a finished art product, along with the whole pretense of art. The artist has established himself as a fictitious commercial entity (an art gallery). He has joined forces with figures ordinarily outside the art system - lawyers, accountants, relatives - whom the law requires or allows in the establishment of a limited liability company. The object: production, distribution, advertising, promotion, sales, and, even if it were to happen, bankruptcy. His name, identified by a logo which replaces the signature and denies any rights of the work to individual originality, are like a trademark. The fictitious company behind this trademark is instantly posited within the social conglomeration of normal businesses producing goods and services, reshuffling the roles which in the business world have always been well defined. The new managerial class accomplishes its work of art appropriating from other artistic WORK FORCES. According to the mechanisms of economics, the logic inherent to this exhibit implies that artist (KMart) will infiltrate the market not only as producer but as promoter, manager, retailer, gallerist, critic, and collector. Thus, roles are illicitly exchanged and appropriated, throwing the normal dynamics of the market off balance. At financial "happenings" (usually held in private), accountants and lawyers are indispensable. With its hardly orthodox approach to economics, art causes an upheaval in the course of everyday business, giving rise to a new sociality which no longer works on the social but within the social. These changes herald a new era; not only do the boundaries distinguishing reality from unreality blur but with the imminent achievement of virtual reality in computers (which allows man to participate emotionally in a program), reality and unreality are truly united. In this cross-convergence the artist plays a role on the financial screen, caught amidst the confusion and the unprecedented characteristics: it is no longer a ready-made (or it is a ready-made raised to the third power); it is no longer a caricature of industry; it is no longer a mere mirror-image of art theory or a portrait of the social. Art now participates directly in the abstract dynamics of economics - unabashedly making money and producing information concerning value. This is not "heavy" industry; it just produces paper - documents, charters, faxes, letters of commission, stocks, bonds, etc. There is nothing harmonious, or beautiful, or metaphysical in all of this; it is simply a magnifying glass held up to our passage on this earth.