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The Grift Economy

Wolf Paw, "Distribution of Wealth," 2104. Mixed media; dimesions variable. Courtesy Ace Chinchilla Gallery, Zurich. © Wolf Paw. All Rights Reserved.

Wolf Paw, Distribution of Wealth, 2104. Mixed media; dimesions variable. Courtesy Ace Chinchilla Gallery, Zurich. © Wolf Paw. All Rights Reserved.

“A grift isn’t fully realized until it is grifted.” —Giovanna della Grema, The Grift: Imaginative Futures in Contemporary Fine Art, 2104 1

Dear Artist,

I hope this finds you well. I am Giovanna della Grema, the director of Ace Chinchilla, LLC, an advisory group for global contemporary fine art based in the capital of Switzerland. I am also senior partner of Grema & Grema, Ltd., our family’s bespoke art consultancy business, whose reigns were recently handed over to me by my father, its founder, after his untimely death by motorcar accident. Thanks to his foresight I am able to legally and fruitfully communicate my proposal to you today.

Also, may I add, it is with deep sense of purpose and utmost sincerity that I write this letter to you, knowing full well how you may feel receiving such a missive from someone you have not met or heard from before. There is no need to fear, as I discovered your listing in reliable US-based arts publications, including the renowned Arts in Americas Directory, which lends credence to my humble belief in the wisdom of this communiqué. I also assure you of my honesty and trustworthiness.

Not at all incidental to this proposal is my exceptional role as private consultant and curator to none other than Her Excellency (HE), the celebrated Sheikha Noor bint Ascii bin Zift, whose beauty and generosity are well known throughout the global fine art community. You will no doubt have read about HE these past several years in all the major newspapers and art magazines, not to mention the annual Top 1000 lists. But in case you, a busy artist immersed in your own process, are not up-to-date on Her Excellency’s growing achievements, I will gladly fill you in at a later date should we continue to discuss our potential arrangement. For now, I will simply point you to a few facts: Her Excellency is heir to a small family estate, an exquisite jewel situated on the pristine outskirts of the eponymous Royaume de Zift2 founded through the implementation of the Village-Turned-Nation-State Solution policy after the climactic events that swept through the realm in the previous decade.

Zift rises from the banks of a former ancient river that for millennia emptied its waters off the northern coast of the African continent. After myriad filthy hovels were razed, Zift was redesigned top to bottom by the visionary “starchitect” Hubertus IV of Hohenlohe-Langenburg-Elf (the great-great-grandson of the Alpine ski celebrity), who earned his degree from the prestigious NYUCorp (Eastern Divisions) soon after the close of his generation’s war. Ever since, sparkling Zift has lent its name to all that touches its borders.

But I must cut this history lesson short and come to our main point. On behalf of Her Excellency, I offer this morsel: we are very much interested in working with you.

Currently we (Her Excellency and myself) serve a handpicked coterie of international young artists, including Martín Martín, Juno Bieber, Agnès Hermès, Antonio van den Boss, Viv Smith, Wolf Paw, Uli Abramovitch, Minus Wei, Julep Haden-Guest, Mustafa Deliria, and several other up-and-coming individuals of enormous potential. We are forging long-term relationships with these fine artists as we spearhead the contemporary resurgence of established patronage systems that once flowered in the golden age of every culture, long before the advent of the now-defunct, twentieth-century model known as The Gallery System, not to mention that short-lived, unsustainable-but-widespread phenomenon of the same era, the International Art Fair.

But before I go into detail about our proposal, which was confided to me privately by Her Excellency herself, I feel obliged to assure you in advance that both Ace Chinchilla Gallery, LLC and Grema & Grema, Ltd. are committed to meeting the diverse and changing needs of contemporary fine artists, and to providing cultural programmes for the ideas and practices encompassed and encircled by the cognitively challenging, opaque global culture of contemporary fine art. The core focus of our multiplatform initiative is to foster personalized and discreet intercourse with and within the world of contemporary fine arts—including painting, fine digital photography, 4-D relational performance, and new and newish media forms—to establish innovative, critical, telecommunicative dialogue between artists, institutions, and potential audiences. I am, in my dual capacity as senior partner of Ace Chinchilla and sole consultant to Her Excellency, committed to working directly as Artist Ambassador to those cutting-edge contemporary art institutions around the globe that one cannot avoid thinking about, as well as major fine arts magazines (such as the one enclosed in this e-information packet), where you can read all about the very artists we carry. It is our goal to create long-standing brands and prestigious environments for fine artists who we feel merit our support, as can be witnessed on our renowned website and attested to by our worldwide, high-end clientele.

To my point then: all we need are your Full Names, GlobalSensChipID number, and your Bank WireSIM code to start the process of changing the certificate of the deed of deposit in your favour to enable you to come over to claim the money and start your residency with us. That is all. Very simple. Let me know what you think about this. In the interim, we—Her Excellency and I—continue to be astounded by your distinguished output and anticipate assisting you with the development of your career, as only we can.

I look forward to hearing from you and would be pleased to provide you with more details. We are very interested in your work. Thanks a lot.

All my best,
Giovanna della Grema

(The above letter is inspired by true events. However, none of it is real. Any resemblance to actual people, real or imagined, is coincidental.)


1. A play on “A gift isn’t fully realized until it is given away,” from Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (New York: Vintage, 1979), 50.
2. “Zift,” Urban Dictionary.

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