What will save us from the insularity of the art
world? Museums are considered guilty of isolating their audiences, selling
and renting out their walls when approached by say Armani, BMW or Saatchi.
In an unprecedented show of chumminess, Sotheby's and Christie's were recently
exposed for being in serious cahoots -- stiffing artists or their estates,
collectors, galleries and even, of course, the government (ie. us) out
of millions of dollars. Or how about the eerie fact that a handful of artists
keep popping up on the international scene, only perpetuating the globalist
ideals? What's even more curious is how it's taken for granted that the
art world has become incredibly academic.
Contemporary art is being created more and more
by graduates, for graduates, directed, administered and curated by graduates.
A unique breed of nepotism is engendered by certain art schools, granting
incredible opportunities for certain careerist individuals. While the grand
universities are entrusted to educate and nurture diversity, we tend to
adhere to their immediate intellectual models. There are other pluses to
getting into the system, to being accredited and hired by institutes. Here's
an example: the artist Rochelle Feinstein has a free studio in Tribeca
even though she teaches at Yale and received a Pollock-Krasner grant in
'01. Or, how about Charles Saatchi preying on the English art schools looking
for the next big big thing. Who's losing out here?
Our only sign of hope, to my mind, is the fact that
non-profit entities and alternative spaces are supposed to expose contemporary
art to wider audiences. Franklin Furnace went to a more democratic space:
An online project called Artboom.net
by Yucef Merhi offers excellent insight into how an artist meets and greets
a cosmopolitan population.
Undoubtedly, making art attainable or understandable
to the crowds can be tricky -- yet too often it's treated as strictly a
business. Alternative spaces are slowly disappearing, and any non-profits
that provide meager support to visual artists are increasingly under-funded.
Hope wanes. And disappears when already highly competitive studio residencies
and commissions that can provide emerging artists with free studios are
conferred to those people "on the inside" or with just the right schooling.
I argue that the art community has been mislabeled
"insular." All it really needs is close attention and active, engaged participation.
Maybe all these issues will be addressed by an upcoming "2-day Symposium
focused on the insularity of the art world" with a whole host of heavy-hitting
art pros taking part at ArtPace.
Here's to hoping...
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