In French, SAS stands for “société par actions simplifiées”, the equivalent of a registered limited company (LTD or INC in English). Untitled SAS is an immaterial work of art whose medium is a business company, with “work of art” as corporate purpose and with a capital open to everybody interested in buying shares at their own price. The social capital of the company is set to 1,00 € (the minimum legally possible), and 10,000 shares are made available. With a freely negotiable capital, the company allows each collector/shareholder to buy and sell shares at the price he set, thus influencing the company’s overall value (displayed on a dedicated website).
In order to set up the company, the artists worked with one of the largest and oldest lawyer’s office of Paris, Granrut Avocats, who had to resolve many new legal paradoxes for its official registration in the French Trade and Companies Register. A similar gesture was performed, years ago, by the Austrian-Swiss collective etoy, who registered themselves as an actual company in Switzerland, with making art as its corporate purpose. But while etoy, in the early years of the internet, were embracing - in an over-affirmative way - the utopian dream of the new economy in order to set them free from the rules of the art market, Émilie Brout and Maxime Marion are more interested in giving birth to a useless yet fully functional machine that performs and mirrors the ways of working of the current art market, where the value of artworks looks less rooted in the material value of the object or in the cultural value of the work, and more in the ability of a few disruptive characters to manipulate it at their will. At the same time, however, as a socially owned, immaterial artwork with a starting value set to the minimum and able to increase with the help of a community of collectors/shareholders, Untitled SAS is the archetypal work of art: like a medieval church, it mirrors and represents the power in charge, while at the same time being available for the larger society. It also bears some spiritual connotations, recalling the Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility (1959) by Yves Klein: the empty space exchanged for gold is replaced by the empty shell of a company turned into shares. Finally, it is the perfect portrait of companies like Facebook, that started valueless and evolved into modern golden calfs.