Monday, May 02, 2011

Exploitation loops

I'm not sure where I heard about them but either which way I have been following Artscrowd for a little while. The concept is simple enough in that they are 'agents' between artists and venues. The later - at the moment at least - being predominantly cafes and restaurants.

I've always had mixed feelings about work in such venues as the concept can be exploitive in that the venue gets wall candy for free and the artists potentially 'soiled' work back when they inevitably don't sell.

Admittedly Artscrowd offers the venues a commission model so potentially there is more motivation to sell work but beware the sales 'staff'. They are not necessarily interested in the work, unburdened from other concerns or even aware of your motivations.

I don't bemoan their efforts but idealistically there should be some compensation model for artists even if work doesn't sell.... Ie. Leasing fees, etc.

The other exploitive loop - that is, you get on the train and the bastard thing fuels all kinds of anxiety - is the awards/grants circuit. For a crowd already bipolar between feelings of greatness/specialness (ego) and quaking insecurity (fear of irrelevance/death), these prove fruitful grounds for the 'money makers'.*

The model is much more prevalent internationally as countless 'competitions' put out calls akin to '10 works for $60, 20 for $110'. Juries are then put together - often the same ones - that appeal to wide demographics that ultimately play on the idea that it's the 'best way to get xyz to look at your work.' Prizes are offered, residencies, etc but even the mathematically illiterate can figure out that it's often a one-way street.

Some are genuinely dangerous in that artists are asked to also surrender IP over their 'entries' through the process.

Just as others, the 'industry' does have it's fair share of feeders and it's unfortunate that they are often willing to prey on one of the weaker (financially and otherwise) segments of society.

* I was talking to someone the other day and noted that this is exactly the same vein organized religion taps.


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