The Salvage Art Institute, a New York based project started by artist Elka Krajewska, surveys, catalogues, and investigates the status and value of art objects once they succumb to the effects of decay, damage or destruction. Its mission statement reads:
Salvage Art Institute works to confront and articulate the condition of no-longer-art-material claimed as “total loss”, resulting from art damaged beyond repair, removed from art market circulation due to its total loss of value in the marketplace yet stored in art-insurance claim inventory.
A recent exhibition and roundtable assembled artworks and people to explore
a group of objects related primarily through their “total loss” status. Developed by Krajewska and GSAPP Exhibitions with the participation of AXA Art Insurance Corporation, “No Longer Art: Salvage Art Institute” engages an actuarial logic that delivers a series of curious reversals. Foremost among these is the annulment of the value of total loss objects. Once a work has been declared a total loss and indemnification has been paid, insured objects are officially considered devoid of value. Left in the limbo of warehouse storage, these objects belong to an odd nether world, no longer alive in terms of the market, gallery or museum system, but often still relatively intact. The survival of salvage art even past its total devaluation confronts our common understanding of where art ends, disturbing the distinction, organization, and separation of art from non-art.
Sadly (if appropriately) enough, the discussion event had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy, which deluged the Chelsea gallery district of Manhattan resulting in the potential creation of many new candidates for the Salvage Art Institute’s registry.
For more press on the project see the Huffington Post, Slate, and ArtWirth.