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Museu Duty Free is the name of an installation in the form of a museum shop.

I started this project in 2007 at the Natural History Museum in Lisbon, followed by an installation for a solo show in Luanda in 2014 based on the informal street shops made in wood and painted by the so called “Langas” in kinbundu - northern Angola dialect. “Langas” are artists with great painting skills that are hired to decorate and paint advertisement on these shops. 

This work comes from my critical studies on the invention of the discipline of Art History and the invention of the Museum institution. A Museum shop always have gifts that reproduce works of Art.

Thinking on Walter Benjamin and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1935) where he explains Marxist theory as applied to the construction of society and the position of art in the context of Capitalism, discussing the concept of authenticity, particularly in application to reproduction.

Benjamin writes on the ritualisation of reproduction and the emancipation of “the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual.”

The changing values of exhibition are analyzed, from historic works which were for private viewing and religious works which were for limited viewing contrasting this with the publicity of modern art which has an emphasis on mass exhibition, coupled with the means to show it to much larger audiences than previously possible.

After all these years, which are the changing values of an exhibition?

What’s the value and limelight art fairs are taking place on the cultural realm? 

Are art fairs the new museums? Are art shops the new possible way to collect art, to become an art collector? 

Artists feed markets and encourage money laundry? Collectors love Art duty free? 

Museu Duty Free is a “site-specific” installation that works ideally in a gallery space or art fair. 

The installation consists of several objects that characterize the museum shops in general like t-shirts, bags, posters, hand-painted ceramics, souvenirs. I intent that all the objects are unique pieces, hand made. The installation works as a hole piece but all the works can be sold one by one.

 © RitaGT

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