BY JIM MCANINCH
On the art front I got some really good responses but reaching beyond your friends to curators is really a struggle. This is a symptom of the problem; people who understand the work are not the curators who are the gatekeepers.
We are trying to make our way in which the commodity artists have sucked all the air out of the room. Four or five years back I was talking to David Antin, Eleanor Antin’s husband, and saying: „David there is this thing – the million dollar sale. Once an artist arranges to make that happen by any means they are in Valhalla. It is a group of artists who can claim commodity status and their access to exhibits is pretty well guaranteed.“ David had advanced Parkinson’s disease at this point so his reply was slow, almost theorem like: „To the extent to which the artist accepts the attainment of that benchmark as significant when it is attained any other meaning that might exist in the work is erased.“
So here are in the only world where meaning exists. Underfunded and overly significant (said somewhat ironically).
This situation and a sense of puzzlement of how to deal with it is felt by friends people I speak to who are curators, teachers even art dealers who see Gagosian et al as setting the financial bar out of reach. Smaller to middle sized galleries who are not funded by PACE or some other hedge fund sized and capitalized gallery, are closing. Not able to compete with galleries who’s main claim it fame is the smell of money and buildings that rival the construction quality of the homes of Billionaires.
How do we have a conversation in our present? As artist – about culture. Let us leave social media out of the picture – just because it has become the kind of assumed route to reach people yet has the hugely problematic side. I am sure at some point it comes into play but.
The core is about art making not its distribution system.
It has seemed to me that looking back on the art of the last fifty years (perhaps the whole 20-21st century) there has been the component of the artist’s charming and exaggerated claims for the social effects of their work. The Italian Futurists claiming a new world of speed and bullets are an early example. Their claim was to see that everything else but that which they defined as outmoded. Its late, I could go on – but to get to the present…
I see now that for better or for worse most of those claims today are not believed. When people do make claims I doubt them like I doubt the claims of a store bought cereal to make you healthy. That said I think art is serious- that within the set of interactions offered between viewer and art work/event there are serious things that can transpire.