Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The path to enlightenment...

The latest issue of Insite came out on Monday and includes an interesting article called Higher Art by Sarah Szabo which looks at the art 'industry'.

It makes for sobering - if not unknown - reading.
It is still the case that you can go into schools and look at the graduating student exhibitions at the end of the year and realise that maybe 10 percent will still be active in art in 10 years' time and perhaps two percent of them will have built a career - John Barrett-Lennard (LW Art Gallery)

Putting it further into perspective, Art Gallery of WA acting director Gary Dufour believes most pieces of art have 2.1 seconds to grab your attention or "you're gone... off down the hall.

I have also been reading Edward Winkleman a bit too much recently and that's put me in an off mood...

I love the spiral as - irrelevant of it's schematic value - it's also a good representation of how it feels...

Just to add more fuel... each artist's journey is actually a three-dimensional series of multiple interwoven spirals, and the intersections are not always so chronological.

Picking up on that same idea, I think another good analogy would be a Japanese zen garden. The stones (if ever there was a more apt metaphor) in the garden influence the flow of movement. Whilst the rocks could be seen as impediments, they can also create great beauty and challenge the creator.

These rocks are also 'designed' so apparent randomness is in fact controlled. Where it gets interesting is heritage... who placed the rocks 'initially' and how 'fixed' are they? It's also creates points of focus where more waves intersect and concentrate.

I might have written myself into a corner as the above sort of implies that outside forces 'design' the challenges that an artist encounters. This could instead be seen as doctrines or tenets that commercial and institutional bodies apply to the broader industry.

I guess I'm still feeling helpless - not the best feeling.

We were talking to an arts administrator the other night about this idea of how you can't force someone out of their cave (idealogical or otherwise) to look at your work.

We've been struggling with the idea that we've metaphorically knocked on certain doors for an - admittedly relatively short - but expensive period of time. It gets to the point where you have this niggling feeling that maybe no one's home and it's time to move on to other things. When do you balance up the idea that your knuckles might get permanently scarred?

If there was some simple recognition that the door has been knocked on - perhaps a note saying P##S OFF! - then that would at least be a point to build on.

This is not the infamous I give up! moment but rather the reality check that if I don't fit the mould then why try to even push myself in to it. It's immensely frustrating as in an ideal world it would ALL be about the work and not commercial pressures, back slapping and posturing.

There is this - importantly unwritten - code of how, what, when, where that I can't seem to decipher. Don't look the gallery director in the eye. Don't speak unless spoken to. Don't call a gallery unprompted. Exhibit here but not there. Don't enter this award. Do enter this award. Don't wear green on a Tuesday in spring, etc, etc.

The work will always happen irrelevant of these factors but it's mindnumbing nonetheless.

I do want to clarify a few things though as I'm not implying that there is a built-in maliciousness in the industry. We have meet many good people who are very supportive.

If anything, it could be as simple as critical mass has been reached - ie. no spots left, please move on or try to take the next train.

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