Friday, December 02, 2005

The power struggle - or, uh, structure

I recently read an article in New York Magazine about Tracey Emin (not a fan of her work). One of the most poignant statements was something to the affect of artists in the UK are the power people, unlike in the US where the gallerists are the stars of the artworld. So why exactly is that?

If, as Olu Oguibe says, the artists have ceded power to the gallerists and dealers. Why are we (artists in the US) whimpering on our knees to the gallerists, begging them to take us on, 'please please show me, I will be good and make lots of work so that you can make money off of me!" This structure has always bothered me, and was re-enforced by statements in How to Survive... which I read years ago.

There are some important things for us, as artists to remember:
1) we make art because we love making art, no matter what we are going to keep making art (right? imagine being asked by someone to give up making art, what would you replace it with - for me its not even something I can toy with thinking about)
2) if it were not for us making art, there would be no jobs for all the curators, arts administrators, gallerists, dealers, critics, publishers, etc etc etc. So its pretty shocking that artists are not treated better than they are.

This is crass over-generalization, there are many many gallerists and administrators etc who really love the art and artists and are trying to promote them, BUT there is a massive imbalance in power.

Here's the actual Emin quote from the article "“In London the artists rule,” Emin says, “but in New York the galleries do. Gallerists here seem to be almost patriarchal figures, and the art scene is really male-dominated here. In London it’s a lot more open to women."

Here are some ways to change that:
1) Support alternative venues and methods of showing, like Budget Gallery
2) Curate your own damn shows! There are a number of venues in New York, DC, Boston, Philly and SF which are open to curatorial propositions. (Gigantic Art Space, Smack Mellon, Works/San Jose, SF Arts Commission Gallery, Oakland Art Gallery, Slought Foundation)
3) Make some statements, write manifestos, distribute them.
4) Consider some guerilla propoganda and art showings.

Thats just the beginning. I don't know if we can invert the balance, but we can certainly try. If you are interested in joining me in making the Budget Gallery happen on the east coast, email me. Also, if you have other ideas let me know, as well as alternative venues and calls for curating, I will continue to add to the list.

(And yeh, I am going to Chelsea anyway tomorrow, and I will be going to see the Emin work...)
(And I will post my own manifesto in a day or so, I have written it, but want to refine it a bit)

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