6/14/10: Yes and also no

June 14, 2010 at 10:36 pm (art)

A thought I keep coming back to is that this is a confusing time to be an artist, a time when it seems like so many contradictory things are true. An article in today’s NY Times about the Guggenheim pairing with Youtube to find (dare I say it?) the next great video artist is a great example.

The proposed exhibition/contest is all about reaching out and trying to bring in new audiences. However, I love what Robert Storr has to say about it:

“Hit-and-run, no-fault encounters between curators and artists, works and the public, will never give useful shape to the art of the present nor define the viewpoint of institutions.”

“It’s time to stop kidding ourselves. The museum as revolving door for new talent is the enemy of art and of talent, not their friend — and the enemy of the public as well, since it refuses to actually serve that public but serves up art as if it was quick-to-spoil produce from a Fresh Direct warehouse.”

Woo hoo! What an awesome couple of quotes – smart, culturally literate, and a little nasty at the end. Love it.

But then the other side of the story is this: If there is this thing (say, Youtube) that is out there and engaging people and encouraging them to create stuff (art? maybe?), isn’t it foolish for a museum to completely ignore it? Wouldn’t it be smart for a museum to at least try – try, as in an experiment, maybe just one time – to bring it in under its umbrella, just to see what happens? Weren’t weird experiments like this one the kind of thing the New Museum would have done when Marcia Tucker was still alive, and now we all seem to be in agreement that it’s gotten way to stodgy and boring and sold out? Isn’t it sort of cool that the Guggenheim, of all places, should be giving an idea like this a whirl?

So on one hand, I think it’s a terrible idea, one that is cheap and gimmicky. And then on the other, I totally think it’s worth a shot and that it would be silly for some museum somewhere to not give a project like this a try. And artists are really stuck in the middle – if you’re a video artist, no matter how you feel about this project, you’d be crazy for not entering in your work just in case.

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