In recent years, the boundaries between art and design have become more and more blurred. It is not the object itself, but rather its economic functionality that determines where design stops and art begins—and this functionality is reassessed at every link in the chain of the object’s dissemination. In fact, it is often customs officials who subjectively decide what constitutes art and design based on their personal views and erratic local tax laws.
Taxing Art is an insightful case study by Beta Tank that illustrates the influence of tax laws on art and creativity. The Berlin-based studio created a series of “blended” work, which was partly handmade and partly machine-made, and sent it around the world. Naturally, this resulted in differing customs duties. The book is a buoyantly ironic, clever documentation and analysis of the effect of traditional, bureaucratic procedures on innovative work.
Beta Tank, explains cofounder Eyal Burstein, hopes Taxing Art will fuel a dialog about “how true innovation and creativity, that which crosses boundaries and moves into the unknown, can be actively pursued and matched within existing categories and assumptions about business practices and results.”
The book puts a spotlight on the effect that tax laws have on art and design. Because this aspect is largely underestimated, Taxing Art is as revealing for artists, designers, curators, and event managers as it is for lawyers and tax officials.