Peter Hill

The Albury Wodonga Superfiction 1993

Collaboration Peter Hill and J.J. Voss (Photographer)


The Art Fair Murders

In 1994, Peter Hill put his Superfiction The Museum of Contemporary Ideas through a détournement and changed it into the on-going novel and art installation The Art Fair Murders. This has featured in museum projects at the Auckland City Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Storey Hall Gallery (RMIT University), The Geelong Art Gallery and elsewhere.

The narrative that runs through the novel and the installation speculates on what would happen if there was a serial killer in the art world, committing a murder every month at a different commercial art fair. The structure of the book – set in 1989 – mimics the artworld calendar for that year. January: Miami; February: Melbourne; March: London; April: Frankfurt; May: Chicago; June:Basle…and through to Cologne: November; and Los Angeles: December. There are two alternative endings and chapters, hence the subtitle of the project: Thirteen Months in 1989.

This fiction is in fact a narrative within a narrative, as the book is supposedly being written by Jacko, a taxi driver in Dundee, who graduated from Goldsmiths a few years before the young British artist (yBa) phenomenon took hold. Unable to sell his sculptures he gets a job as an art transporter, but is eventually sacked from that when he and his co-driver lose a small Lucian Freud portrait in Berlin, the weekend the wall came down (they were supposed to be in Cologne at the art fair at the time).

During quiet moments in his taxi (and there were plenty of those) Jacko works on his novel The Art Fair Murders and seeks advice from his friend Zoran a published science fiction writer. The pair usually meet for breakfast in Sweaty Betty’s café and an early morning game of chess, down near the beach in Aberdeen.

The project is set in 1989 and the ‘eternal present’ and deliberately explores a number of clichés from the 1990s including the overuse of the mannequin in installation art; the overuse of the serial killer in fiction and film; and the overuse of the colour orange in graphic design.

Many of the artists and art teams who exhibited in Peter Hill’s first press release for The Museum of Contemporary Ideas feature in the novel and the art installations. These include: AAA (Art Against Astrology); Milco Zeemann; The Triplet Twins; The Logical Extremists; The Art Tsars; Elvi and Jack; Hal Jones; and Herb Sherman. (see Superfictions, the PhD for more information)

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