Project Description

Title: Murder With Impunity
Date: 1999
Media: Engraved knives, legal contract
Location: Whitechapel Art Gallery, EAST International, Aicon Gallery

Murder with Impunity is a conceptual artwork that continues Tegala’s interest in asking questions of human desire. The work involves a series of knives, each engraved with the artist’s signature, and for sale. The purchaser is asked to sign a legal contract that states that they could use the knife to commit a murder, leave the knife at the scene and the artist will take responsibility. Murder with Impunity is intended to test the philosophical boundaries an artwork, the extent of the law and the notion of culpability.

“Patrick Bateman wannabes had only to visit EAST International and invest in Simon Tegala’s specially devised limited edition piece, Murder with Impunity, 2000. This clearly signed, wickedly sharp, painfully trendy kitchen knife comes with a contract licensing buyers to do their worst, with Tegala committed to shoulder blame for “any indictable proceedings to the Act.” His conceptual Grand Guignol practically hemorrages issues: the artist as immoralist or redeemer; the power of money; the buying, selling, and “stealing” of human life; the nature of responsibility; the act gratuit; the definition of “incitement”; the operation of laws; the dispensation of justice (an incomplete list). It’s a smart urgent piece in an absorbing, tendentious exhibition.”  Rachel Withers, Artforum