When I was still in art school, I posited an art-making strategy of decommissioning functional objects. The idea being that any man-made object lacking a function would therefore be art.

Shawn Wolfe, whose work will also be featured in the upcoming As Real As It Gets, created something along these lines with his oxymoronic “RemoverInstaller” brand.

The “dark nature of consumerism’ was… the target of Shawn Wolfe’s anti-brand, Beatkit, which began life in 1984 and expired according to plan in 2000. Professional-looking advertisements and promotional materials proclaimed the virtues of a product line that had no clear function and did not actually exist. The most enigmatic of these items, the ‘Remover Installer’, resembles a machine part or a sealed electronic component… The ultimate incomprehensibility of the Remover Installer, even though it appears in some images to exist in solid form, satirizes the abstract nature of branding’s transcendent calls to the consumer.

Rick Poyner, No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism


Beatkit™ was a brand without a product that promised to cease and desist in the year 2000, which it did. Beatkit’s mantra was “the general gloss of falsity is our only product”, which was a long-winded way of saying “Beatkit: it’s all lies.” So despite what I say it actually did have a product, the RemoverInstaller™, which was a baby rattle type of device except with no rattle and no moving parts. It had no function or utility of any kind, except to inspire an ad campaign around itself, Panic Now. Panic Now was similar to other real-world ad campaigns, except it dispensed with any pretense to romance or amuse you and instead just focused on the naked howling truth of all ads, i.e. “Stop whatever you’re doing and look at this. You don’t even know what it is but you need it. Don’t try to reason your way through it or out of it, just panic. Now.”

Shawn Wolfe (interview by Kristen Rask of Schmancy Toys, CrownDozen, 2007)

As Real As It Gets runs from November 16 till December 22. It opens on Thursday, November 15: 6-8 pm.

Apexart is located at 291 Church Street , New York, NY 10013 USA

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