This is the 100th post on my Career Suicide blog. Although I’d like more comments and public interaction, I understand that the divide-and-rule climate of paranoia in contemporary art (and the fact that many important art world figures are extremely nasty, vindictive pieces of work) makes people afraid of even being seen as a fellow traveller of the few who speak out, let alone of speaking up for themselves and putting their name to a criticism. Instead of dealing with the problems, the entrenched elites of the art world make people who talk about the problems into the problems. I’ve heard he’s difficult.
A friend asked me a while ago if it really had been career suicide to publish the book, and then to go further in some ways in the writing of this blog. Other people have asked me the same thing. My answer is always an immediate no. If anything, I’ve had new opportunities, made new friendships and gained unexpected (and in some cases art world influential) supporters.
And obviously I see the site logs, I get the emails, people buy the book, people accost me at events when they find out who I am and they thank me for saying what was on their mind. So I have the powerful comfort of knowing there are thousands of people out there– artists included– who are the silent fellow travellers, the ones who agree with me that contemporary art can be exciting, well-made, intelligent, vital, disturbing, enlightening, beautiful and all manner of other good things that connect with the experiences and the interior lives of a broad spectrum of people… but only when it’s free from the deathly grip of curator egos, vested interests, academic mummery, artists’ vanity, bullshit, and the orthodox art world’s general deference and sycophancy to the rich and immoral, who not only expect this sycophancy but actually require it from their pet artists. I’m not alone, I’m not wrong, and neither are most of the people who follow me… if only some of the snobs who are dug in at the pinnacles would deign to listen.
I was also asked recently what I thought the solution was to these gatekeepers getting in our way, these people who think they can still decide everything about who is an approved and adopted artist, and what kinds of work these artists get to show. I said fuck the gatekeepers, and the gates. Go around the back and climb the walls. Better still, bulldoze straight through those walls and make sure they can never be repaired. Let other people pour through the breach behind you.
We’re tired of celebrity artists whose artistic expression and product– because that’s what they’re making, product– has no more depth, value or meaning than their counterparts’ appearances on a reality TV show. We’ve had enough of the same tired little roster of Frieze-endorsed charlatans running through their limited repertoire of modernist gestures that owe everything to the narrow canon of what a few dozen people have decided Fine Art was from the 1930s to the 1970s, and having very little contact with real contemporary life or thought. We’re sick of artists being the least important, worst paid and most abused workers in the art world. For as long as we’ve been truly human, artists have been with us and they’ve been seeing the things that other people don’t, expressing their insights in ways that other people can’t. Art wasn’t invented to go on a Saudi princeling’s wall, to whitewash the brand of car manufacturers or petrochemical companies, or to be collected like knick knacks at the whim of idle trophy wives who are mainly laundering their oligarch husband’s blood money anyway. Art is not frivolous or a consumer commodity; it’s one of the parts of human nature that at its best truly takes us beyond the animal and makes us both human and humane, and helps us to understand all our sisters and brothers in the human race.
Death to the white cube. Long live the new art.