Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hubbyco's Dig The Dig: Merch Sestina

An excerpt from a longer prose piece about Bettina Hubby's recent multi-dimensional "construction site" exhibitions....

Dig The Dig: Merch Sestina (version 2)

Even in 2013, amid all the post-post-modern conceptual art,
when you go to a fine-art gallery or a museum, you rarely see “merch”
being sold alongside the, usually expensive, other art work
on display. Perhaps galleries & museums fear it would not enrich
the experience. But this is one of the reasons why Bettina Hubby’s
recent installation at the Bergamont Metro station construction site

is so refreshing! At the Dig The Dig exhibit, the construction site
adjacent to the Santa Monica Museum of Modern Art
was transformed into a 30 person show, curated by Hubby.
Beautiful still lives, thought-engaging conceptual pieces, &, yes, merch
were all present. Each installation brought different values to enrich
this event, which was also a party to celebrate the construction work

that had disrupted the community & SMMOA’s ability to work
before they commissioned this Resident Construction Artist on the site.
SMMOA’s July 21st celebration is the first public manifestation of Hubby’s enrich-
ment of the environs. By exploring the relationship of construction work to fine art,
as well creating “Dig The Dig” scarves, buttons, pillows, T-shirts and other merch,
including a Perfume called “Dig” developed with Saskia Wilson Brown, Hubby

emphasized why Rose Apodaca calls her “an art-egaliatian.” Hubby
& Brown (of the Institute of Art and Olfaction), crafted this edition of work-
er inspired fragrance, limited to 100 bottles. In creating this “merch,”
they waived 49 flavors under the noses of workers from the site
to determine which scents made “tired workers feel good.” The Art
of concocting a scent that can make tired people feel good can enrich

in ways that conventional perfumes do not. You can feel immediately enrich-
ed by this concoction of orange, vanilla, coffee, pine, rain & ‘fresh laundry’ Hubby
& Brown developed without having to wait to see if others find the art
seductive! As the workers became a nascent focus group in Brown’s work,
I wondered if this “bespoke scent” could be marketed beyond its use at this site-
specific installation. As far as I know, there are no plans, but this “merch”

also served as a “loss-leader” to call attention to IAO’s other “merch”
& the coordination of efforts between Hubby, Brown and the workers enrich
our understanding of the ways art, labor, and commerce intersect in any site
of familiar daily experiences. While this is only one aspect of Hubby’s
topical explorations, Dig suggests a way for those who call their art work
to create, and collaborate, in coordination, with those who call their work art

(of course, you could totally avoid the Merch Table. Hubby didn’t demand
anybody Enrich her pockets, or even enjoy the Work or Works at the
Site, but I didn’t meet one person who found no Art they could use or enjoy).

Chris Stroffolino, August 2013

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