The work of Jeffrey Charles Henry Peacock Gallery is ongoing during July and August, off-site
While the name Jeffrey Charles Henry Peacock Gallery has a prestigious – if unwieldy – ring to it, the title in fact stems from the amalgamation of two non-profit exhibition spaces: Jeffrey Charles Gallery (founded in 2001 by artists Kev Rice and Dave Smith) and Henry Peacock Gallery (run by artist and gallerist Thom Winterburn). Both spaces closed their doors in the same year, merging in 2005 to form an entity that sits outside conventional gallery structures.
JCHP Gallery is based on a denial of the need for physical space as a means of presenting art. The 'gallery' exists without an address, manifested instead through the dissemination of information and the participation of the recipients. Since 2005, JCHP has commissioned artists such as John Miller, Terry Atkinson and Michael Corris to create editions, projects publicised by an invitation card or email and sent out to those who respond. The invitations have also served as announcements for 'exhibitions' that exist purely through instructions, or in an intangible act of exchange. The experimental and declaratory use of language, as well as the importance given to typographic design, offers parallels with a number of avant-garde movements from Dada to Fluxus.
If a conventional gallery implies a generalised, impersonal interaction with art, the requirement for response in a JCHP instruction suggests the personal completion of a contract. For Do not like do not dislike (2006), the invitation listed the names of four paintings, the address of Tate Britain and a set of opening times and dates for the exhibition. The implication was that the recipient would fulfil the exhibition by visiting the gallery within the allotted dates and times, engaging wholly and only with a set of designated works. JCHP operates within the contractual mechanisms of cultural appreciation, but its methods, though demanding and exclusive, disavow the value systems that can dictate how art is perceived. To quote from the invitation for the former project, "Do not like, do not dislike, all will then be clear. This does not mean do nothing at all, but only have no deliberate mind. Do not select or reject anything."
The ICA's invitation to JCHP to propose a Nought to Sixty project poses the question of how such processes of reassignment can exist within a larger system. The gallery's response to the request has been to hold up a mirror, 're-gifting' the invitation by inviting the ICA to complete a JCHP exhibition, entitled Pecuniary Proposal, that will run from 19 July to 24 August. This project entails the payment of £250 to the ICA in order to facilitate an un-prescribed activity. In response to the conundrum of how to complete this 'contract', the ICA has resolved to use the funds to reproduce the original invitation card for Pecuniary Proposal and to distribute this copy within the Nought to Sixty mail out for July. This unsanctioned act provides a further layer to Pecuniary Proposal, creating a parallel exhibition through the recipients of the ICA mailing list, one that replicates the 'original' exhibition as manifested through JCHP's own distribution system.