Tag Archives: idiots


11 Jan

A thought-provoking and informative article inspired by the recent $5.7 million sale of a most definitely crappy act of plagiarism by a technically capable but unimaginative hack (with plagiaristic form) of an original Chris Foss painting for a book cover. Although obviously the utter shithead who bought it for $5.7 million has to take a lot of the blame, too, along with all of his or her kind. Ultimately the artist is just servicing this plutocratic market and churning out high-end widgets that just happen to take the shape of art works, like a glorified McJob work experience boy. If he wasn’t doing it, somebody else would. See also The super-rich are never embarrassed.

“So what do *I* think of Glenn Brown’s appropriated art, referencing great SF illustrators? I could use the big put-downs from fine art school and call it commercially technical, overly kitsch and academic in its attempt at realism. I think it’s crappy fine art. But it’s crappy fine art borne aloft on millions of viral cat pictures and an internet culture of ripping and running with images without regard for the original creators. It’s the fine art we culturally deserve,  just as much as Warhol’s soup cans were fitting for the commercial-goods industrial era. Would I pay millions of dollars for it? Hellz no. But the momentum of  post-modernism’s love of referencing, appropriating and remixing is what led it to be worth that much.”

Read the rest here, in Scientific American for no discernible reason:



20 Nov


TOPTASTEMAKERSNote, November 2013: I’m republishing this from the currently unavailable Market Project site*, where it was first posted about eighteen months ago. I’m doing so on the occasion of Samir Ceric from Debut Contemporary being named by the Hospital Club and Guardian Culture Pros as one of the most “innovative, interesting and influential people” in the arts in Britain.

* It’s now un-unavailable. Read the original here.

Even leaving aside that all these top ten or top hundred most influential/powerful/richest/whatever lists are absolute fucking bullshit and they say very little about a person’s actual merit or achievements but a great deal about them having the right kinds of friends in the right places, I would venture to suggest that if anybody wants to turn it into a contest then I’m more influential than he is, because sometimes in a week I’ll have more readers here than I would if I wrote for Frieze or any other art magazine every month for a year. And who do people come to when they think they’ve been fucked over by the likes of Debut Contemporary? Me. His desperation is palpable to anyone who isn’t wilfully blinding themselves to it.

I’m definitely more “interesting” and “innovative” than him, if only because my expressions of personality aren’t entirely reliant upon having a wacky wardrobe full of clown clothes. Read more about Debut’s recent shenanigans and their (dis)information catalogue here.

When I initially wrote the article, I was just annoyed by the fact that people were actually falling for what looked to me like obvious bullshit, and by the general air of insufferable arrogance, pretentious snobbery, smugness and greed that I think hangs around the entire enterprise. I had no idea it would go viral and attract hundreds of comments, many of them from former Debut clients sharing their horror stories of bullying, intimididation, lies and threats. In a wider sense it acted as a lightning rod for concerns from real art professionals (i.e. not the likes of Ceric) that the exploitation of young and naive artists was out of control. Regular readers of this site will know that Debut are not the only culprits, but in my opinion they are probably the worst– and the reasons why they are the worst are not just because I say so or express an opinion about it. They were and are very well documented if anybody bothers to look, or listen to all the people who feel they were deceived. I suggest you start by Googling the artists Charlie Tuesday Gates and Theresa Bruno for a start. You can also very easily check Ceric’s track record of limited companies and other business ventures, which for now it suffices to say is nothing to be proud of.

As you will see, I and my colleagues were also honoured to attract some patented Debut Contemporary-style intimidation for daring to oppose them or say anything bad about them. What follows is not the original article verbatim, but a digest of the most cogent parts.

Continue reading


22 Aug


Thanks to several informants (who didn’t know about any of the other people who simultaneously tipped me off) I’ve become aware that my dear old friends, the vanity artist farmers Debut Contemporary, have been trawling for fat new wallets. Market Project is currently on hiatus and not being updated, but you can read my original article about Debut Contemporary there, plus hundreds of comments including damning– and in a few cases, somewhat heartbreaking if not harrowing– testimony from former clients of theirs. You can also read sock puppet comments from their cronies, and see documentation of failed attempts by these cronies to secretly defame me and my colleagues for criticising them.

I’ll get to Debut Con’s hilarious “information catalogue” for artists anon, but firstly here’s what was spammed out to the artists in question. I’ve removed the rash of links that were provided, so anybody who’s tempted to visit them thinks twice before doing so. At least twice, preferably more than twice.


My name is Laura Ellis. I work for Debut Contemporary art gallery in Notting Hill* and I would like to offer you the opportunity to apply to the Debut Contemporary professional development programme as our select committee has shortlisted you. I saw your work on the Art Slant online catalogue and was very impressed.

NOTES: You mean this Art Slant, the one that indiscrimately slurps up the names, exhibition lists, biographies and work of artists without their knowledge, instruction or consent… then has the cheek to ask artists to “claim” all these things, which are already theirs? The site at which no link is provided for an artist to tell Art Slant that they should get you the hell off the site because you don’t take kindly to the spurious implication that you support their site and business by choosing to be on there? The catalogue of artists that includes critical darlings like Ryan Gander (claim your profile, Ryan!) who I daresay wouldn’t think it’s very cool that Art Slant is potentially damaging their credibility and the value of their work? The Art Slant that’s so indiscriminate in its scraping of information and profile building that firmly and definitively deceased artists like Mark Rothko are being asked to “claim their profile”? Joseph Beuys, Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock, Man Ray: you name an artist who’s pushing up the daisies and they’ve been Art Slanted.

Or to put it as succinctly as one person who wrote to me: “God knows what the point of it is and WHO THE FUCK uses it to find artists?” Apart from Debut Contemporary, obviously.

There are twenty artists with the surname Gentry on the site, but I’m not. DEVASTATED EMOTICON/HASHTAG DEVASTATED.

* Sample of a recent tweet by Laura: “listened to @BBCR1 this morning about Ibiza! So I went in to my unpaid internship, quit and got on the next plane! lol jks im on the tube.” I’m sure Samir and Zoe were pleased to hear how much you love your unpaid internship, Laura. Is your bipolar Twitter saga of joy and angst over cocking up an Excel spreadsheet the reason they’ve recently been advertising for a new intern?

Continue reading


14 Aug

In 1999 two researchers defined scientifically a phenomenon of cognitive bias that’s been well-known anecdotally for thousands of years: the truly incompetent have no idea how incompetent they really are, but they blunder on regardless. The original scientific paper puts it like this:

“People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability… Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.”

In other words, “The Fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a Fool.” (William Shakespeare, As You Like It). Or “those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.” (Bertrand Russell) Or Confucius: “Knowing the extent of one’s own ignorance is real knowledge.” This article on the subject also lists Socrates’ “I know one thing: I know nothing” and Charles Darwin’s “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”, and features this graphic of the phenomenon:


When participants in the study were tested on their humour, grammar and logic, the people on the least capable side of the graph (bottom and 2nd quartile) showed the largest gap between what they thought they knew and what they actually did. Or, more specifically, the largest gap between their witty, articulate and rational self-images and the unfunny, ignorant and illogical reality of their thought processes. Those in the 3rd quartile– less scientifically, we might call them the above average thinkers– were sometimes just slightly overconfident but usually fairly realistic in their self-assessments. The most intellectually gifted or knowledgeable people invariably somewhat underestimated themselves.

What does this have to do with art? Quite a lot, especially the issues of artist livelihoods, artist careers and art world realpolitik that I often engage with here on this blog, in my writing elsewhere, and in the real world. My current thoughts on the subject were triggered by this post about a few of Bob Dylan’s amateur daubings going on show at the National Portrait Gallery in London. We can probably assume that Dylan thought his terrible drawings were good enough, or he wouldn’t humiliate himself and the NPG by offering them for exhibition. This is the Dunning-Kruger effect in action, because he’s too bad at what he does and too out of touch with reality to even realise how bad he is. It also evokes the untranslatable German word but very recognisable universal sensation Fremdscham, which is the shrivelling horror one feels when somebody has no idea how much they’re embarrassing themselves. Continue reading


13 Aug


Following her recent ouroboros of star-fuckery with Jay-Z at his minstrel show for New York city’s art royalty, insufferable has-been and exploiter/abuser of low paid performers at LA MOCA Marina Abramović (brilliantly and succinctly demolished by Hrag Vartanian in this article as “the art world’s version of late Elvis”) has recently engaged in another act of “Abramović Method” mirror-in-mirror narcissism with the prolifically untalented Lady Gaga. The original video is absolutely bloody ghastly and evokes every bad undergraduate performance art piece ever made, but luckily somebody jazzed it up a bit with a Yakety Sax soundtrack. Much better.


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