I think I’ve always judged the art world by its worst art, never the good stuff. This has been a practice of mine for many seasons.
When I first used this metric, plastic bags and found art were the norm. On the flip side, I only judge fashion by the very best, because that’s the trickle down effect in culture. Art is all about capturing the new (sans Damien Hirst). Every imaginable variant on found trash bags; from the kind you find in grocery stores, to the simple black ten-gallon variety. Some formed into cars, others filled with cement. But in the end. Nothing could transform them, into more then just being – plastic bags. I have yet to see one of these pieces in a collection.
I love talking to art dealers, listening them describe their artists. The plastic bag phenomenon happened in 2009, a year after the world stood still. At one point, one was explaining the artist’s process; he looked down, almost bemused by his own description of how the sculpture foraged through junkyards. Anything can be made to sound luxurious. Yet trash is still trash.
Now, art is getting better. Found objects are being used to a minimum and some actual skill seems to be going into the work, instead of galleries sucking up a bevy of art students and cute kids that happened to wander in at any given moment. There seems to be more rhyme or reason to it. Organically.
That said, there’s very little that wows me. Or stops me in my tracks, or makes me joyous. The last time I felt this feeling of wondrous self discovery was at Vice’s Creators Project – specifically – “A physical manifestation of Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space” [on The Creators Project], then Janet Cardiff: Forty-Part Motet at MOMA [on Capital New York], which the museum rolls out ever so often, the piece was created in 2001. Of course Marina Abramovic herself, will forever be memorable, I’ll never forget waiting to sit with her and never quite getting there. Yet the five hours swam past.
I keep on thinking better art is made, everywhere but New York, but then I remember, I only see the good stuff on the web.
Art is a reflection of our culture, so is fashion. I struggle in my own work, to find support for my craft, the construction of photography, to meet the many needs and expectations of commercial and fine art. I spend a ridiculous amount of time obsessing about how to make-work. At one point I tell a friend: “I should just change my name to Follow Up & Pitch”.
Before the fall, we had an explosion of really good mercurial art. Art that somehow was destine to self-destruct. From a sculpture made of blood, to chocolate Jesus and works on paper that were destine to survive for only a few years. There was a roaring debate about weather the artist should offer maintenance for the ever wilting and transforming pieces. Ultimately, few of the pieces sold in the secondary market, when their owners desperately needed to unload, what they thought was a valuable piece.
So fast-forward to today. When the secondary art market is booming. Yet, the new art market seems somehow stalled. I looked through artnet [artnet], to discover a vast storehouse of photography from ages ago, some quite riveting and haunting, beautiful works from the masters of the past. But no new work. Artspace [Artspace] has succeeded in filling that void, for new work, yet the curated space seems almost impenetrable to emerging artists (I’ve tried every which way to knock on their door). Saatchi Online [Saatchi Online], simply feels like it’s depressing the market. Sigh. It’s sometimes better then Etsy.
The Great Depression started in 1929 and ended when we revved up production for World War II, in 1941. The war ended in 1945. We finally got some relief and the world returned to normal (slightly) by the fifties. So now it’s the Great Recession. We’re five years in. If history serves as a benchmark, we have a few more years to go. Then there will be a boom, a glorious boom.
So the artists are learning. We’re all learning. We started out with trash bags, now we’re showing skill and learning how to make money to support our work. I keep on being reminded, that part of being successful with art, is winning the endurance race – the hours of rejection, pitching, making work and remaking work.
I recently downloaded Tina Turner “Simply the Best”.
Damn it, if Tina can make it. So can I. Bring on the next five years.