Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)

  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    sketch for arrangement in frame.
  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    detail
  • Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)

    [No.2]
    Adler advertisement from Harpers & Queen, November 1998, (p.105)
    3 x advertisements placed in Loot, November 6th/7th 1998, (pp.15, 20 and 114).
    Combined dimensions: 50cm x 60cm

    Published in an edition of 35 by Paul E Stolper.

    Loot advertisements placed by Adam Chodzko, for Inverter (Clearance Sale), November 6th/7th 1998:

    p.114: Collecting and Hobbies; 833a:
    Wing, made of metal and broken glass (1m long). Only one of a pair. Strange fancy costume. £30 ono. Also, tiny, stuffed, sepia coloured Double Duck. Ornamental. Reasonable condition. £50. No time wasters please. 

    p.15:  Womens Clothing; 155a:
    Dress: slim and long, in dark sepia with faded patches, v plain and flat looking. £36.    

    p.20: DIY Building Materials; 189a:
    Sand: sepia coloured, mixed grain. 2 large bags, £25. 40+ x decorative sticks, useful for gardening/fencing, £20.  Paint, ‘Estuary Water‘. Bright, off-white matt. Water-based, 3 gallons. £40.


    Inverter ( Clearance Sale ) comprises of a full page advertisement for an expensive necklace made by Adler, placed in the November edition of Harpers & Queen, 1998. Alongside it are a series of advertisements placed, by Chodzko, in Loot, the classified advertisements paper, which appear to propose a deconstruction and erasure of the imagery of the Adler advertisement offering ‘it’ for sale as mostly banal ‘pre-owned’, discount items.  It is a work of science fiction, suggesting a reality where different value systems, perceptions and realities operate.  It shows an immediate (in November 1998) fall of financial value as a result of excessive aspiration. Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus‘ (c.1560), an inspiration for many of Chodzko’s artworks, is a model for Inverter ( Clearance Sale ).  There is a sense of the unpicking , unpacking, archiving or extraction of an image as well as some confusion as to what exactly we should be looking at.  There’s also an exploration of how these processes gradually influence a viewer’s perception, shaping their vision, that appears in many of his works eg: Nightvision, The Pickers, Settlement,O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrixand Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see .
    Like Flashers, Inverter ( Clearance Sale ) was secreted into everyday public space.  The entire artwork was available, in newsagents, to anyone, for the normal cost of the magazine and the classified advertisements paper during the 6th and 7th November.  In fact the Loot paper becomes more exclusive and rare with its fleeting two day existence compared with the slower turnover of Harpers & Queen which remains on the magazine racks for a month.

    Excerpt from an interview with Mark Godfrey,  (currently Senior Curator, International Art, Tate Modern for ‘adam chodzko’,  MAMbo catalogue, September 2007:
    MG: Many of your earliest works involved a British publication called Loot which was a classified advert newspaper where people could place ads to sell unwanted items or to search for objects, services, and people. You created adverts that seemed to imply an alien character placing them, or that described impossible objects. Later, you took luxury advertisements (for diamond necklaces, for instance) and placed offers in Loot for the peripheral materials that appeared in those adverts…
    AC: [Inverter ( Clearance Sale ) explores]… “slippages between different value systems and their respective languages.  A fashion advertisement in Vogue or Harpers & Queen would have the constituent parts of its image sold off, piece by piece, in Loot.  For a few days (since Loot would change its contents daily) these two systems would be in dialogue on different shelves of newspaper shops. While Burgin’s or Kruger’s deconstructions demonstrate the artists’ failure to be seduced by advertisements, my works begin by being entirely ‘seduced’ but then failing to recognise the hierarchies, commodities and values involved in an image, instead dismantling the misunderstood image and sharing it with anyone.   So, in a Vogue advertisement for a Barbour jacket even the background rainfall had a potential use-value; I made it all equally ‘available’ and cheap!  Together with many other works of mine, Transmitters and Inverter ( Clearance Sale )  suggest a maker who is ignorant not only of a culturally established hierarchy of objects and aesthetics, but also the fundamental difference between two and three dimensions, developing instead a peculiar intimate relationship with peripheral parts of an image, as if they were entirely tangible and mobile. Misunderstanding, not knowing the established order of things, is always crucial in the work, in that it opens up a space to imagine other realities and shows the contingency and perhaps the fragility too of our present reality.”

    Excerpt from Bad Timing, Adam Chodzko interviewed by David Barrett, July-August 2008,  Art Monthly, 3181
    DB: At least one series of your works is about puncturing myths. In the 1999 piece, Inverter (Clearance Sale) (No. 2), you sell off in Loot the items from a luxury ad in Harpers & Queen, both adverts appearing in their respective pages of magazines simultaneously, although on different shelves in the newsagent! You expose one kind of fantasy by dismantling it with another one.
    AC: Yes, these images are built up through a tacit agreement that we’ll understand their content and desires because we all share a common aspiration for glamour, sex, wealth, respect and so on. That piece is made by a very innocent narrator who misunderstands the whole set-up, because they’ve somehow missed being indoctrinated into that construct. They understand that it’s an advert and that it’s about selling and they are trying to help! But they misread the visual language seeing everywhere a kind of damage and the bizarre; the enlarged diamond encrusted tiara is misread as a huge, ‘wing made of ‘broken glass’, the carefully sun-dappled dress is seen as having ‘faded patches”, and the seabird that stands with its reflection on the horizon they misread as a double-duck ornament. The narrator is without the visual knowledge that we build up and use to read images very quickly. It’s like going right back to the beginning again with an image, having no expectation, not understanding the most basic presuppositions about scale, hierarchy, or two-dimensionality.


    An earlier version of this piece exists as a ‘sketch’, with some of its Loot advertisements alluding to re-purposed canonical artworks, a form of ‘appropriation’ Chodzko worked with in his earlier series Transmitters (1998):

    Inverter (Clearance Sale), [No. 1] (1998)
    Barbour advertisement from Vogue, April, 1998

    3 x advertisements placed in Loot, 1st April, 1998


    Related works:

    A ‘Haywain’ Moment      (2014)      
    A Hostile Environment   (2019)
    A Place for ‘The End’    (1999)
    Ants Choose Position for Sequins – 2 Seconds Interval   (2003)
    Better Scenery   (2000 – )
    Bone Mask-Filter Tour   (2008)
    cell-a    (2002)
    Cleaner (a story)    (1997)
    Flashers       (1996-)
    Garden   (2007)
    Involva         (1995)
    Loose Disclaimer   (2000)
    Meetings of people with stammers to describe a fire    (1999-)
    Next Meeting: The foyer of the Hagens Hotel, Måløy, Sogn og Fjordane, on the island of Vågsøy…     (2007)
    We are Sorry    (July 9, 2013)
    White Magic            (2005)

  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    detail (crop)
  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    detail (crop)
  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    detail (crop)
  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    Full source page in "Loot' for the 'wing' advertisement.
  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    installed in 'Proxigean Tide', Tate St Ives, (2008)
  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    installed in 'Proxigean Tide', Tate St Ives, (2008)
  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    Detail: Inverter (Clearance Sale), [No. 1] (1998)
  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    Detail: Inverter (Clearance Sale), [No. 1] (1998)
  • Adam Chodzko / Inverter (Clearance Sale)   (1999)
    Detail: Inverter (Clearance Sale), [No. 1] (1998)