11.02.2009

declarations and values

a series of declarations drawn out of my own value system as it collides with the art world. different folks in my life will have recently heard versions of these quiet rampages, but it felt important to at least speak them in a space that they could be revisited. like all of life, they are experiments, and despite the force of my convictions, they are not conclusions. i've just come to identify growing senses of... well, outrage about politics that pop up in the arts that i believe hinder the expansion of art as a continually relevant area of research into what we are capable of experiencing and feeling and considering through our perceptions. and so i proceed:



-i disapprove of juried shows that charge artists fees to compete, and i'm not the only one. these exhibitions, if well advertised, represent more a source of revenue for a gallery at the expense of emerging artists, than it does genuinely wholesome opportunities for artists and their work. as a curator- freelance or in one of the galleries i volunteer with- i never want to be at one end of a situation in which privilege or income is a stated component of the jurying process. it doesn't matter if you or i could afford to enter such competitions, there are indisputably artists (probably young ones with fresh ideas) that can't and to filter these demographics out of an exhibition being curated is suspicious and does not align to my hopes and dreams for the art world. if an artist is charged $10 per piece being submitted to a competition, or, say, $30 to submit an exhibition proposal to a gallery, then the proceeds that a well established gallery will take from the project will far exceed the number of artists who benefit through being exhibited. and the number of artists who get nothing but a rejection letter function as fuel for the gallery.

i am not trying to change anyone's mind on this. after i say it is wrong, other striations within the arts will still practice their business in this manner without a guilty conscience. after i call it a scam, some will refute it and in so doing, will further affirm my beliefs. but i want to state somewhere for the record that there are those of us who believe the gallery truly is a place for research in an intersectional field where aesthetics can influence discourses in sociology, politics, poetics, philosophy and many other fields of exploration. i want this to be truly accessible to all. i strive to not limit or control who or what might become part of the conversation, while knowing that my platforms have some limitations and i can only be the source or part of the source of some of the conversation. so the galleries curate things that have been coming into our periphery and can be framed as significant. i, nor my writing, nor the efforts i align with, attempt to be all things for all people (and nor do i expect that from anyone else). but all people should be invited to engage.




-i was speaking with a friend at the carnegie openings on friday. we were swapping recent horror stories about what i consider reprehensible behavior on the part of ego-driven members of the academia. my own internal jury is still out to absolutely say that the art world would be better without myopic purists. sometimes i think their incredible positions can be one way for young emerging thinkers to sharpen themselves against, but mostly, i think they should stop.

i believe drawing classes should only be taught by people who recognize the practice as one of endless discovery in every direction without a single, defined endpoint that students are meant to reach. drawing is not about a linear progression of achievements. a person making a drawing (however the drawing manifests: a figure study, an operetta, a video, a crocheted object, an etching, a manifesto, a tag left around town) is not working against some Ideal to which they should be compared. if there is any way to assign value to drawing as an act or the products that result from it, i believe the value system should be established by the educator being sensitive, accurately intuitive and careful as they come to know the personal projects of each artist they are working with. through observation, different forms of communication, the facilitator can begin to hold each artist to their own standards, their own output.

that is, if it is necessary to assign value to drawing or its resulting products. is it necessary? drawing is like transportation, it gets an artist from one place to another. and sometimes a drive with all the windows down and music turned up is entirely the point. each act of drawing almost always establishes its own logic that it carries inside itself. inconsistencies in that system should be pointed out and discussed, but not demeaned, because the anomaly- as in nature- can often present a lead for a more sustainable branch of evolution.

shame on the teacher that breaks the spirit of a student and/or an artist for any reason.

there is no justification for the abuse of a position of influence and power.





-after i began writing as an art critic, my expectations for what an artist's abilities are/should be have continued to evolve in directions that i would not have expected. through my undergraduate experience, i believe i was encouraged and trained to be a self sufficient unit that could conceive of art projects, find ways to execute them properly, talk about them and discuss them within the parameters of decidedly verbal intelligence, and to present that work in an informed, considered way. this calls for the artist to be a hybrid of artist/critic/curator unto himself, which is what i've resulted as. i am glad i was trained this way. i think that i am most likely to excel when deconstructing multiple practices and interweaving their disciplines to discover or discuss the overlapping information. i am fair at doing all of these things and i like doing them.

but as i've begun to occupy each of those roles in defined, distinguished capacities, i've separated their practices and even seen some of the harm of expecting all artists to function as a hybrid of these roles. to be clear, i am not accusing my alma mater of expecting this from artists, as much as i am admitting that a result of my time there was that i had a concrete expectation for artists to be able to not only come up with great ideas and realize them, i wanted them to be able to if not totally explain them, then to at least articulate a context, and to use an objective eye and mind to make impressive exhibitions of that work.

in 2009 i have been personally bettered through encounters with art and makers who are not concerned with the kinds of verbal intelligence that i spend my weeks with as i write, curate and even frame my own artwork. they are a different kind of artist than what i am and what i hope to become, but they are wonderful. they prove that what i ultimately hope is that beyond my abilities as a writer, there is work that cannot be translated into language. I want to continue seeing more and more art that can't be spoken about because it so resides within the highest potentials of the field of visual art.

don't disrupt these artists from the way they are working. what they are doing is good. so many visual artists say in interviews later in life that they wish they had trusted their own intuition more, so those who do this successfully should be applauded.

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