David Tomas’s installation This is Tomorrow focuses on the recent auction sale of two display panels designed by the British pop artist Richard Hamilton for Man, Machine, Motion, an exhibition held at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in 1955, in order to raise questions about the future form of the artwork in the context of a global art system and market economy.
The installation is titled after another canonical 1950s exhibition to which Hamilton contributed. In it, Tomas superimposes the two exhibitions’ idealistic celebration of the future with the display logic of the contemporary auction house, redeploying the layout used to promote the recent sale of the panels. This is Tomorrow analyses Hamilton’s panels and their message from the viewpoint of their circulation in a system quite distinct from the one in which they were originally designed to function. Both the online and printed catalogue entries for the panels are reproduced on intense blue canvases, a cellular bookcase holds auction and exhibition catalogues, a research table allows visitors to consult documents and an audio component broadcasts the sale of the panels. In mining the specific trajectory of Hamilton’s vision of a post-1950s future, the installation explores the future of all artworks in a world determined by a global mobility predicated on the auction process.