On the Conditions of Handling, Process, and Display of FedEx Works

24-inch Copper (FedEx® Large Kraft Box ©2008 FEDEX 330510 REV 6/08 GP), International Priority, Los Angeles–Malmö trk#794379965566, February 2–4, 2011, International Priority, Malmö–Mostolés trk#871976834313, June 10–13, 2011, International Priority, Mostolés–Los Angeles trk#797697675646, November 3–8, 2011 , 2011–

24-inch Copper (FedEx® Large Kraft Box ©2008 FEDEX 330510 REV 6/08 GP), International Priority, Los Angeles–Malmö trk#794379965566, February 2–4, 2011, International Priority, Malmö–Mostolés trk#871976834313, June 10–13, 2011, International Priority, Mostolés–Los Angeles trk#797697675646, November 3–8, 2011, 2011–

 FedEx Copper Works (2009–):

Material Composition and Production:

The works are made of polished raw 16mil copper cut and formed to the size of Federal Express standard shipping boxes. The works are initially shipped “clean”, and all marks on the surface are the result of the shipping process. The FedEx airway bill, customs documentation, tracking labels, and barcodes are all part of the work and should not be removed. Every time the work is shown it must be shipped via FedEx; thus each time the work is displayed in a different location, the form of the work changes. The piece does not exist as an artwork until it has been shipped, nor is it complete without the complimentary airway bills and customs documentation.

 

Copper is a soft metal that oxidizes easily when it is exposed to the oils in bare skin. It is also possible to polish copper to a mirror like finish, making the work unable to be seen in isolation: one will always see its environment reflected in its surface, just as everything it comes into contact with is etched into it. These works both reflect their contexts (showing them on their surfaces) and are formed by their context (the labor required to move the works from one place to another leaves pronounced traces on its surface). In a sense, copper is a material that allows for the inclusion of the distribution and transport of the work to factor into the aesthetic conditions of the object, subsuming this process of travel into the appearance of the object by transcribing its contact with bodies on itself.

 

Proper Handling:

The works can only be shipped via Federal Express (FedEx). Additional tape of any kind may be used to attach airway bills to the works. All shipping labels, attached customs forms, or pro formas should not be removed from the works. Additional shipping labels must be attached on top of the prior shipping tags. It is the nature of these works that they will never appear the same as originally shown, in the gallery or museum space, after being shipped. This is a key aspect of the work and should not be subverted through conservation. Additional tracking numbers, dates, and cities from additional shipments must be added to the title of the works shipped. Works can be shown in any configuration and in any number. To transport the work in any other manner beside FedEx is to subvert and destroy the work.

 

Shipping and Receiving:

Shipping is often treated as a mute support of the work of art and its exhibition. The logistics required to move art objects through the world, which are dependent on expansive international systems, occur in off hours and out of view, despite being massive undertakings. These works imbed this process in the work, making the support (i.e. the transit) part of the active production of the work. In short, the transport is part of the work, a necessary element of the work’s being seen or “appearing” (as in the technical sense of the term “aesthetic” as relating to “perceptible things”) is indistinguishable from the work itself, a division I would argue has always been arbirtrary (art works require a transportation network to be seen at all). Furthermore, the airway bills, customs forms, and pro formas, are all affixed to the works. These forms indicate the provenance of the work and the system of obligations that support the travel of the work, as each form indicates an agreement between parties centered around this object. Thus, the existence of the work is a form of contract between parties.

 

Federal Express and the Corporate Modular:

Federal Express not only owns the design of the box but also the specific volume of space contained within the box, meaning that no other company can produce an official SSCC (Standardized Shipping Container Code) coded box containing the same volume. The volume of space is proprietary. Thus it is important that the work never be shipped by any carrier that is not FedEx. The owner of the work can decide not to exhibit the work in other venues for personal reasons but cannot choose another means of transport.

 

Display:

The work is modular, meaning that it can be displayed in any configuration or number. The configuration of the boxes in the space (how they are stacked, arranged, or accumulated) is left to the discretion of the managers of the specific context of display. The artist may be included in this process but does not need to be. As long as the general rules of the work are followed, the display of the work can take an almost infinite number of forms. Each instance of display should be considered an “example” of the work, which can be duplicated but does not need to be. There is no fixed manner of display outside of the simple conditions outlined above; no installation of the work is definitive.

 

Titling Conventions:

An example title of a work that has been shipped twice might read:

 

20-inch Copper (FedEx® Large Kraft Box ©2005 FEDEX 330508), Priority Overnight, Los Angeles–New York trk#864049582968, May 16–17, 2007, Standard Overnight, New York–Los Angeles trk#934679585637, January 6–7, 2008, 2007–

Polished copper, accrued FedEx shipping and tracking labels

20 x 20 x 20 inches

 

Here Annotated:

20-inch Copper [size and material] (FedEx® Large Kraft Box ©2005 FEDEX 330508) [official name of referenced Fed Ex box and SSCC#], Priority Overnight [method of shipping for first shipment], Los Angeles–New York [cities shipped between in first shipment] trk#864049582968 [tracking number for first shipment], May 16–17, 2007 [dates of travel for first shipment], Standard Overnight [method of shipping for second shipment], New York–Los Angeles [cities shipped between in second shipment] trk#934679585637 [tracking number for second shipment], January 6–7, 2008 [dates of travel for second shipment], 2007 [date(s) of work]–

Polished copper, accrued FedEx shipping and tracking labels [media]

20 x 20 x 20 inches [dimensions]

 

Method of shipments, cities shipped between, tracking numbers, and dates of travel should be added to the title with each shipment. The date of the work, (indicated above by “2007–” reflects the year in which the box was first shipped.

 

—Walead Beshty, 2009

 

 

FedEx® Medium Framed Art Box ©2011 FedEx 163095 REV 7/11 Standard Overnight, Los Angeles–New York trk#798452111018, May 30–31, 2012, Standard Overnight, New York–Los Angeles trk#793621540796, May 31–June 1, 2012,  2012–

FedEx® Medium Framed Art Box ©2011 FedEx 163095 REV 7/11 Standard Overnight, Los Angeles–New York trk#798452111018, May 30–31, 2012, Standard Overnight, New York–Los Angeles trk#793621540796, May 31–June 1, 2012, 2012–

FedEx Glass Works, both mirrored and clear, (2007–)

Material Composition and Production:

The works are made of laminated glass (either two-way mirror or clear) cut to the size of Federal Express standard shipping boxes. The works are initially shipped unbroken, and all cracking in the glass is the result of the shipping process. The work is comprised of the glass box, the cardboard FedEx-issued shipping container, and all of the shipping documents produced through the course of the work’s history. Under no circumstance can one part of the work can be shown in isolation. The FedEx boxes act both as shipping containers and sculptural elements in the work; they are reinforced along the intersection of their sides by a simple steel skeleton, which allows the cardboard box to serve as a support for the glass box. The work must be shipped by FedEx between all exhibition venues, and thus the work is different every time it is displayed. The shipping containers can be used as supports for the display of the glass boxes they are used to ship, or vice versa, but they do not have to be used in this manner, although they must always be displayed with the work. The FedEx airway bill, customs forms, tracking labels, and barcodes are all part of the work and should not be removed. Every time the work is shown it must be shipped in the original box. The shipping box may be reinforced with additional tape or patched according to the discretion of the owner of the work.

            Laminated glass, two-way mirrored or clear, are significant materials for several reasons. Firstly, they reflect and imbed the surroundings of the works within their surfaces, allowing one to look through and at their surfaces, and as they crack, they reorder and fragment their surroundings. In this, they frame what is around them, while also changing in appearance depending on what surrounds them. Secondly, they physically change as a result of the forces they are exposed to in the normal course of their handling during shipping, and this physical change also alters the secondary effects of the work (such as how they reflect the space around them).

 

Proper Handling:

The works can only be shipped via Federal Express (FedEx). Each glass box must be shipped in the FedEx cardboard box that was used to originally ship the glass box, and in the same orientation. Additional tape of any kind may be used to reseal or reinforce the FedEx cardboard boxes. No shipping labels, attached customs forms, or pro formas should be removed from the boxes. Additional shipping labels must be attached on top of the prior shipping tags. Due to the nature of the work, the boxes will never appear the same as originally shown in the gallery or museum space. Additional tracking numbers from additional shipments must be added to the title of the works shipped. When the works are opened upon receipt, the cardboard boxes must be opened along the flaps of the FedEx shipping box, the box should not be cut apart. Works should be photographed after every shipment, and images should be sent to the studio or representing gallery. There is a top and bottom to the boxes, and the work should always rest in the proper position. To transport the work in any other manner beside Federal Express is to subvert the work.

 

*See “Shipping and Receiving,” “Federal Express and the Corporate Modular,” and “Display” sections of the “FedEx Copper Works” section.

 

Titling Conventions:

An example title of a work that has been shipped twice might read:

FedEx® Large Kraft Box ©2005 FEDEX 330508, Priority Overnight, Los Angeles–New York trk#864049582968, May 16–17, 2007, Standard Overnight, New York-Los Angeles trk#934679585637, January 6–7, 2008, 2007­–

Laminated Mirropane, FedEx shipping box, metal, tape, accrued FedEx shipping and tracking labels

20 x 20 x 20 inches

 

Here Annotated:

FedEx® Large Kraft Box ©2005 FEDEX 330508) [official name of Fed Ex box and SSCC#], Standard Overnight [method of shipping for first shipment], Los Angeles-New York [cities shipped between in first shipment] trk#864049582968 [tracking number of first shipment], May 16-17, 2007 [dates of travel for first shipment], Standard Overnight [method of shipping for second shipment], New York–Los Angeles [cities shipped between in second shipment] trk# 934679585637 [tracking number for second shipment], January 6–7, 2008 [dates of travel for second shipment], 2007 [date(s) of work]–

Laminated Mirropane, FedEx shipping box, metal, tape, accrued FedEx shipping and tracking labels [media]

20 x 20 x 20 inches [dimensions]

Method of shipments, cities shipped between, tracking numbers, and dates of travel should be added to the title with each shipment. The date of the work, (indicated above by “2007–” reflects year in which the box was first shipped.

 

—Walead Beshty, 2007/2008/2009