Tag Archives: art world

THE ISOLATOR

4 Mar

This is how much I want to see any of the exhibitions or commissions on in Britain right now:

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The author at work in his private study aided by the Isolator. Outside noises being eliminated, the worker can concentrate with ease upon the subject at hand. (By Hugo Gernsback, 1925)

Isolator2

“GLORIFIED SHOPPING MALLS”

27 Jan

Some magnificent verbal kamikaze quotes from Australian gallerist Evan Hughes, on the occasion of closing down the business founded by his father and then run by himself.

Top Sydney gallerist launches blistering attack on the art world

PRODUCT FOR DICKHEADS

ArtWorldDickheadsE_Hughes

“… It was almost as if we were given permission to declare that the art world had been taken over by dickheads. Too much of the commercial art trade has become about the selling of product and the accumulation of capital, much to the confusion and disillusionment of young artists. “

REALISTIC PORTRAITURE

Greedy_EHughes

A commission for Malcolm Turnbull, Australian prime minister: “In the 1990s, when Malcolm was still a merchant banker, the Turnbull family commissioned one of my father’s artists, Lewis Miller, to paint a portrait of Malcolm. Unhappy with the work, Turnbull confronted my father at a function and exclaimed: “That artist of yours is no good; he’s made me look like a big, fat, greedy cunt”, to which my father replied, “He is a realist painter, you know”. “

WWAVD?

TackyMailOrder_EHughes

“I suddenly asked myself: “Would Vollard be doing art fairs and Artsy?” Maybe he would; we didn’t want to.” He’s referring to the French art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who supported many artists when they needed it most. As for Artsy… mmm… yeah…

GLORIFIED SHOPPING MALLS

ArtFairs_EHughes

“…It was just depressing to realise that the art trade is now centred on glorified shopping malls run by quasi-property developers (art fairs) and tacky mail-order firms (internet enterprises).”

HAPPENING EVERYWHERE

25 Jan

MemesMemes

About five years ago when I and a few colleagues started talking about the (mostly really shitty) economics and realpolitik of being an artist who isn’t one of yer Damien Hirsts, Tracey Emins or Turner Prize winner– and aren’t we all glad not to be?– everybody else’s reaction was what the who now? You want to talk about money? Why? Don’t artists just do it for the sake of art? Then hundreds of artists, arts professionals and art lovers turned up to the public discussions we organised on the subject. Now everybody’s talking about it everywhere, all the time, from Facebook groups like Stop Working For Free to art blogs like Hyperallergic. Books are written about it, although none of them are as good as mine. There are campaigns like W.A.G.E. in New York and the UK’s Paying Artists. The more the better because it’s still not enough. Nobody talks about it much in the mainstream newspapers and art magazines, obviously, or at the director and senior curator or top 100 artist level because they all have comfy upper middle class (often much higher than upper middle class) salaries to protect so they want it kept down low. Either that or they simply haven’t noticed how hard it is now for artists to get paid or even to get a foot in the door to begin with.

Last week I became aware of another two voices adding to what must soon be a critical mass of resistance to the fucked up status quo for people who work in the arts.

Iceland’s SÍM (Association of Icelandic Artists) has launched We Pay Visual Artists. Obviously their site is mostly in Icelandic, but their interesting and well-argued videos are all subtitled. a-n’s Jack Hutchinson did a report on it in English.

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The actors’ union Equity also have a campaign called Professionally Made Professionally Paid, which if nothing else is an excellent slogan. They have three useful documents available to download, containing pragmatic advice for the payers and the hopefully getting paid, alongside more general context that is useful for any creative worker in any medium.

I particularly enjoyed their unapologetic and detailed calling out of You Me Bum Bum Train, who get a rocket up the arse arse because despite broadsheet cultural critics who seem to love the theatrical result of performers working their poor thespian bum bums off for no pay… (quote):

“You Me Bum Bum Train engage exclusively volunteers to do what should be paid professional work in the main. They refuse to engage with the Union in any meaningful way and have a business model dependent on the use of volunteer labour (which is largely highly skilled, being sought from the ranks of paid professionals). Only via established theatres with whom we have an industrial relationship have we managed to have any contact with the company.”

This is a very succinct condensation of the persistent and diffuse problems faced by many artists– and I mean artists in the widest sense of the word including actors, performance artists, writers, visual artists, and so on. Paid individuals, profit making companies or publicly funded projects expecting to get professional quality work for nothing, and very often getting away with it. Years of training and/or honing your craft not only taken for granted but also just taken as if they have a right to it. Paid work abolished in favour of unpaid work that only a comfortably off person can commit to. Also this theatre company’s name is really bloody stupid and has always irked me, but that’s mostly unrelated.

SEVERE CORRECTION

20 Jan

… of the art market. What were you thinking of, you dirty wee puppy? I’ll deal with you later. No, according to a University of Luxembourg study, the international art market is in a “mania phase” and the bubble is going to pop any time soon, leading to a “severe correction”. Countdown starting right now to an art exhibition called either Severe Correction or Mania Phase.

The contemporary art market has been a very bad, bad, dirty, disobedient and thoughtless pig.

The “zombie formalist” artists (i.e. makers of art as an asset class, devoid of narrative, representation, politics, ideology, etc.) and their handlers are partly to blame, but as the gentleman who created the term rightly says, and as I have also said in a various ways over the past few years about a hundred bloody times: “Since the entire market is entirely irrational, it can’t be rationally interpreted.”

Nonetheless, it’s in the nature of financial bubbles that any talk of the bubble bursting often brings about the very same pop feared by beneficiaries of the bubble, which probably wouldn’t happen if nobody was talking about the bubble bursting… and so forth until your head bursts too.

The Guardian article also contains this nugget:

“Levin said the bubble was inflating in part due to the prevalence of high-end money laundering being done through art, and how the two have come to affect one another. Buy art in one country and pop it in the private jet, the theory goes, and by morning you’ve moved $100m between tax jurisdictions.”

Again, QED. Exactly what I’ve said on this blog and at various talks and conferences on numerous occasions, sometimes to self-righteous splutters of indignation or shocked disbelief. On this blog we know some people who might “pop” art between tax jurisdictions or run art galleries to launder their dirty money, don’t we readers?

SuspiciousProvenance

Won’t we all be sad though when artistically worthless art owned by super rich people becomes monetarily worthless too?

REAL ART WORLD MORE SATIRICAL THAN SATIRE AGAIN

5 Dec

RiffWestsideStory

This is what you get when rolling around on the floor, self-harming and generally making a tit of yourself become normalised as art practices: a woman (really, but non-fatally) stabbed by another woman in the neck and arms with a craft knife during an altercation at Art Basel Miami Beach and taken out on a stretcher while police cordoned off the crime scene was described by onlookers as “a performance art presentation.” Two of these patrons were “sipping champagne” and gawking at the bloody floor from behind police tape even as they expressed their horror that it was a real stabbing. Still think covering yourself in body fluids, paint, food (etc.) is cutting edge or exploring new territory? The public are now so blasé about this “transgressive” type of art that they assume crimes, violent incidents and bloody accidents are art interventions, so the answer is a resounding NO.

Obviously I hope the unfortunate victim gets well soon, but this whole scenario is like a scene from a John Waters film. An artist opined that he thought it was more likely that “a piece of art fell on her” because nobody gets stabbed at Art Basel– putting me in mind of the woman in Airplane! who idly muses that “Jim never vomits at home…” as the aircraft is crashing. Not to mention the Road Runner cartoon imagery of a patron at an art fair being splattered underneath a heavy sculpture, as if that’s a likely event. The fact that the stabbing was done with an X-Acto knife vaguely suggests that the assailant was either an artist or worked for an art gallery, for a little Valerie Solanas spice. And of course the incident takes place in the comprehensively daft and beyond satire 1-percenter bubble of Art Banal Miami Vice itself, where the important art works on show include a female mannequin set up to crush walnuts between its thighs and a man punching canvases with boxing gloves full of paint.

[Sigh]

LeonardoDavinsky

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