Friday, February 24, 2006

Site, Cults and Curators?

The lobs have already started against the not yet opened Whitney Biennial and the cult of the . I (and From the Floor) am more interested in the recent announcement of the artist's for the Sixth Site Santa Fe.

I have always found this to be compelling for its focus primarily on installation and site specific work. Curated by Klaus Ottmann, and titled "Still Points of the Turning World" this years show promises to focus on the artworks instead of forcing them into a curatorial theme. He has chosen (I can't find the full list) to include Patty Chang, Peter Doig, Wolfgang Laib, Jonathan Meese, Wangechi Mutu and Catherine Opie. There are only 13 artists to be included in this show, and of those listed each is quite different in their style and approach from the others.

Patty Chang creates works that are performance based and self-referential (in the mode of Chris Burden and Carolee Schneeman). Peter Doig, a painter, works with contemporary landscape imagery to create works that are dreamlike. Wolfgang Laib (the only artist whose name I recognized in the list) is known for his meditative and spiritual installations. Jonathon Meese creates installations and performances which examine cultural references and identity. I will let James Wagner speak for the brilliant and surprising collages and works on paper of Wangechi Mutu, who was moved into the realm of video and sculptural installations as she explores the female form in international modern culture. Catherine Opie has covered a wide variety of cross sections of humanity with her startling and honest photographic eye.

So it will be interesting to see how these diverse and independent artists come together in a single. I will also be on the lookout for the full list (if you know where it is, let me know).

As for the 'cult of the curator' I have referenced this topic in a couple of other posts, with Olu Oguibe urging artists to regain the power in the art community hierarchy, and an examination of the 'cult of the artist' which exists in the UK. So it is interesting to turn the looking glass on ourselves (the artists) to try to figure out why the US celebrates the curators, collectors and dealers more than the artists. I don't have an answer to why this exists - will need to get rid of the headache and maybe read some more recent art history to try to understand it better, but here are some initial thoughts. There was a time when artists were self reliant (for financial reasons) and created works not for the mass public or collectors, but for themselves and each other. As soon as money starts to flow into the art world, the shift changes and the power slides over to those who have the money. The success of the YBA, was largely due to their own self determination. They hosted their own shows and promoted themselves outside of the structure of the art world (until they were of course subsumed by it). So, I call again to all artists to take back the power - curate your own shows, create alternative venues, promote yourself in new and different ways.

In light of that. I am currently creating two curatorial proposals, the first is going to be a show of artists from various regions of the world who deal with identity, the second the show of synthetic naturalists that I have long wanted to do. I will post the thematic statements when I get through them. If you know of any great artists which might fit in either of these themes let me know. Also still hoping to bring the wonderful Budget Gallery to NYC (which reminds me I need to get back in touch with Steve Lambert - one of the cleverest people I know).

Anyone else working on something to promote their work or their friends? Would love to hear about it. Oh - one project like that is the Bushwick Art Project (or BAP as we prefer).

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