— Neil Cummings (@neilarise) March 9, 2017
30 Davies Street
LONDON W1Y 1LG
Tel: 020 7493 2488 28th January 2003
Dear Rene Gimpel,
Please find enclosed the text of a lecture which I think belongs to you, I found it on a lectern at Chelsea College of Art and Design; as you will see it has been annotated by me.
I should like to explain that I gave the lecture on your behalf, in fact as you, at the Royal College of Art on the 24th January 2003. I was invited to speak about my work as an artist, but during my preparation I read your lecture and began to think how appropriate it would be, not to talk about my practice but to perform it in some way. So, I announced just before the lecture, that Neil Cummings was unable to attend due to a personal crisis, and that I, Rene Gimpel had agreed to stand in at the last moment.
I then read your lecture verbatim, using a selection of my own slides as accompaniment.
There was a very, very lively question and answer session afterwards, during which I at no time disclosed my ‘true’ identity. A few people who already knew me interpreted the lecture as a critical intervention, most were absolutely enthralled. Several students tried to secure appointments to show me (you) their work, or visit the gallery. I declined as tactfully as I could, and made no promises on your behalf.
In exchange for borrowing your lecture I include Capital, a book to accompany a project commissioned by Tate Modern and the Bank of England in 2001.
As you will see the project explores via the gift and it’s subsequent debt, themes of value and trust in the parallel symbolic or financial economies that the two institutions preside over. Issues of power haunt Capital, and my decision to appropriate your lecture was an attempt to embody those themes rather than merely talk about them.
Your lecture and its subject - the commodity heart of the art object fit uncannily into my own recent interests. I should also say, the audience really enjoyed the lecture, some of the anecdotes - painting over the Basquiat signature for easy import/export for example - brought audible gasps. Thank you.
Royal College of Art