The administration of art at Basel2010

Is art the same as design? Does it matter? An insightful project at Design Miami/Basel considers the implication of classifying creativity.

“Taxing Art: Regulating Art, Design and Innovation” is the brainchild of Beta Tank, a design practice founded by Michele Gauler and Eyal Burstein. The project interrogates the question: “Is it design or is it art?” The ongoing evolution of creative boundaries being shifted or broken down may render the question irrelevant, but bureaucracy dictates otherwise.

Beta Tank argue that innovation relies on the free flow of ideas and concepts traveling across continents but trade laws, custom procedures, government policies and the classification of projects restrict the freedom of experimentation and innovation. The project’s objective is to illuminate and evoke a dialogue around bureaucratic and economic obstacles imposed on creativity.

For Design Miami/Basel in Switzerland Beta Tank created three “thought objects” that represent dated custom laws and that are reactions to specific policies that restrict interdisciplinary practices. The objects are all “blended” - partly hand-made, partly machine-made - all of which incurrs different custom charges on their journey from Germany to Switzerland.

The first object is a “Box of Loose Hammers”, a cast translucent cardboard box-cum-coffee table that’s been filled with loose hammers. It questions the terms of utility and material intention. “Chanimals” considers the concept of standardisation and the perception of functionality. T228/89 is the third object, comprising rotating pyramids that can subvert the use of object from design object to sculpture with the swing of a hand, challenging the everyday conventions of the classification of design objects and artworks, but in legal terms it will never be both.

Based in Berlin, Beta Tank describe themselves as “a think-and-make-tank” positioned between science, technology, design and art, transforming complex social and technological issues into easily understood objects and services.

"Taxing Art" is part of a book that the duo are producing to help guide young creative businesses through the labyrinth of bureaucracy.