Saturday, February 16, 2013

The week in review

At the CAA: A lively, meaty panel on “Art Criticism and Social Media” chaired by Phyllis Tuchman, with Walter Robinson, Sarah Douglas, Lindsay Pollock, and Barry Schwabsky, where Walter Robinson tweeted throughout, looking up only to ask, “What was the question?”  (I thought it was a hilarious commentary on the topic, although some stuffier members of the audience got their knickers in a bunch about it)…Facebook was compared to a modern day equivalent of the Cedar Bar, but happily more egalitarian and less sexist…one questioner lamented that art criticism doesn’t pay, to which Barry Schwabsky commented that it is a counter to economic rationale, was never really a true profession but something people do because they can’t help themselves….another asked how she could get traffic to her “small blog.” The most prominent Facebooker in the audience generously suggested that she post it on his page (anything that gets attention he leaves it up, otherwise, he takes it down) and there was some discussion of tweets, etc. but no one mentioned CONTENT, which is the way things really happen. You can tweet until kingdom come, but if it’s not interesting, no one will read it, whereas if it is, you can be re-tweeted into history—which is the beauty of the Internet.

Again, in another panel, more talk about the “how” rather than the “why” or “what”—this is where I want to start screaming, in Donald Trump fashion, “CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT!”—but Lindsay Pollock did address the importance of editors. So much writing on the Web, even when pretty good, lacks cohesion and focus. The irony is that the content that's written with the most thought and care—that in art magazines—gets the least distribution and dies an early death if it’s not archived online.  

I walked past a booth flaking a “low residency PhD,” which tempted me for a moment, thinking how much fun it could be to go from no degree to a PhD and study theory and philosophy in an organized way, but immediately scotched the idea when I attempted another panel that opened with an incomprehensible presentation by a chaired Harvard professor, a specialist in African and African-American art who, among other flubs, could not correctly pronounce “Basquiat” or “Cote d’Ivoire” (“Bas-kee-yay” and “Coot Deever”—eek!).

The CAA job mill was humming, as usual, with interviewees scurrying about or sitting on the floor at the Hilton making last-minute touch-ups to their resumes, but—you read it here—I give the art school bubble another 10 years, maybe only five. With the move from professorships to low-paying adjunct positions, it’s unlikely students will put up with high tuition rates when the only jobs they can expect at graduation pay next-to-nothing and offer neither benefits nor security. At least there will be no need to complain anymore about the academization of art—the academies will simply kill themselves.

Beyond the Hilton there was art to see: speaking of Basquiat (that’s “Bas-kee-yat”), a humongous museum-style show at Gagosian, Suzan Frecon’s lovely Tantric-like studies at David Zwirner, the sumptuous Boetti embroideries at Gladstone, and a sign of progress at Gavin Brown where, at the artists’ request, there were NO press releases available. Hooray!

Suzan Frecon
for a large painting – (malachite color), 2007
Watercolor on old Indian ledger paper
Framed: 15 3/4 x 18 1/2 inches (40.01 x 46.99 cm)
Paper: 9 3/4 x 12 1/2 inches (24.8 x 31.8 cm)


CAP said...

Lindsay Pollack's idea of focus is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Jeff said...

Oh my. So much to comment on. As a past participant in Survivor CAA Job Mill I feel for those applicants. I was so naive back then.

As for the panels: the woman asking how she could get more people to her blog was asking the wrong crowd.

And lastly, I find CAA to be pretty pretentious. That mention of art criticism as a job was interesting. As if most of those people have any stake in making art, art practice, or artists more valued in our society. In many respects they are such an insular group, speaking in a language that only they understand and about subjects that often are so esoteric you wonder if nativity is only for the job seekers.

Sorry, I took advantage of your blog's title and vented.

Oh, and how many presenters just read their papers from the dias?

cjagers said...

It's a shame that the end goal of art school has been reduced to only becoming a studio artist or teaching. Everything else is left uncelebrated by schools. Why?

I feel like art school prepared me for so many things and many of my art school friends have become very successful in various fields. Art school is one of the only fields of study where one gets practice moving an idea from conception to reality.

People who know how to make things will own the future. This should be an explosive time for art programs and computer science ... I hope they don't miss the opportunity.