Michael Wang. NKEADDYY (Rivals series), 2013. Exchange of common stock, certificate, powder-coated aluminum, knit athletic shoes. 5 1/4 x 170 3/4 x 5 1/4 in. (13.3 x 433.7 x 13.3 cm.) (sculpture) 14 x 10 1/2 in. (35.6 x 26.7 cm.) (certificate).
Rivalry between firms in competition for market share results in the growth of successful firms and the shrinkage and irrelevance of lesser firms. The drive for expansion tends to produce a handful of very large firms in direct competition — often narrowing the field to two key competitors. The growth of successful firms corresponds to an increase in overall market size. This is the competitive logic of capitalism. While the internal culture of a corporation often views competing firms with enmity, rival firms in fact rely on each other to grow and change. Competition creates codependence. From an outside perspective, these competing firms can be seen as a single entity or phenomenon: a de facto merger. As such an entity, the rival firms would constitute a monopoly.
Taking company value as a site for artistic intervention, the works in the series “Rivals” act to neutralize competition between rival firms:
The sale of the artwork funds an equal investment in each rival firm. The artist is paid for the work in common stock to become a one millionth of one percent owner of both firms. The artist thus becomes a one millionth of one percent owner of the conceptual merger.
The physical works are appropriated from the product portfolios of the rival firms. The number of products included from each firm corresponds to the number of shares that will be purchased to constitute a one millionth of one percent ownership in the firm.