05 February 2010

Ha ha ha ha ha

First, some background. Jen Dalton and William Powhida are organising a show at the Winkleman Gallery in New York.

As part of it, they've set up a blog. I suggested in the comments to one post that they make people apply to buy the work in the show.

So I laughed when I saw this:

Now, I know that if you give away an idea cos you're not going to use it yourself, you're not really in a position to complain when the people you give it to use it in a way other than you would have. But, fuck it, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

The way I see it, there are three main problems with this picture. In no particular order, they are:

  1. The whole point of the application form idea was to overturn the existing power structure in favour of the artist. You can't have the dealer approve or deny applicants – that changes nothing. That's how it already works, you fucking idiots. The idea is to give the artist the power for once. For fuck's sake, repeat after me: the whole point. And you missed it. Fucking hell.

  2. Apparently, during the cultural revolution, the Chinese communists would give people they'd arrested a pile of blank paper and tell them to write whatever they liked. For some reason, this was much more effective than torture. The people would produce all sorts of incredible confessions.

    My idea for the application form was quite vindictive. I wanted to make the applicant suffer. So I was thinking a similar tactic to the Chinese would be the go – give them a large blank space and no cues on how to fill it.

    Five one-line reasons is far too easy.

  3. Rosemary Miller summed up the final problem nicely: 'So they have a mock application AS the work? Far too fucking Billy Apple for my liking.'

So it all just goes to show the old adage is true – if you want something done properly, you need to do it yourself.


William said...

I'm not speaking for Jen here,


A couple of things from fucking idiot #1; the drawing is a representation of an idea, not a real application. I'm not the fan of your idea. I think the process should be a negotiation between the buyer and the dealer.

While I thank you for suggesting the idea of the application, and I was happy you submitted it because I've been trying to convince Jen to sell the work based on a best offer. I think your idea gave her a feeling of permission to do something different, which I've tried to do in the past. I did a double-sided drawing for Platform Gallery at Aqua Art Fair that was made unavailable to rich collectors, and I instructed the dealers to accept the first offer from an art enthusiast.

Here's were we really differ, you want the applicant to suffer and I don't want to put working-class people through the hell you are interested in. I want to create access for those who can't normally afford 'art'. I'm not out to try and punish everyone in the hopes of getting the ten collectors who usually come to Ed's gallery to fill out the application. I also don't want people to feel a sense of what they lack when they come to the gallery; ie money.

So, back to your main point. I'm not interested in 'getting power' as an artist, I've got an unreasonable amount of control already with this show. As a fucking idiot, I want to make the process of buying art open to a broader audience than using the fixed price point model. I want the dealer to have to work in a different way by interacting with everyone on equal terms, not just an established collector base and have to determine if the person is making a reasonable offer based on their social class. We are not excluding the dealer, or ignoring the existence of how the market operates.

So, to be clear, I'm not interested in applying your Chinese application torture concept to #class. And, also, it seems you never read the mission statement. Jen and I will be making a lot of work based on the process, dialog, and ideas that come from #class and commodifying. Apparently, it idea has worked in making you uncomfortable.

Work Space

As the show progresses, the individual artists Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida plan to participate in the market by making art work inspired by the information, events and discussions generated in the space. At the work tables in the space, in public, we will create small works on paper based on our interpretation and documentation of the evolving project. This work will not be priced in the usual commercial manner, premised on 'what the market will bear' based on our past work and reputations. Instead, we plan to offer our work to the highest bidder with no reserve. We may offer suggested guidelines for appropriate prices, such as one day of the buyer's income from his or her job, 0.1% of his or her net worth, etc. However, the buyers will be free to offer whatever price they see fit, and the artists will be obliged to sell the work at the highest offered price.

Market Space

There will be a clearly defined, physically marginalized Market Space within the gallery where these works can be displayed and marketed to those who would like to view or purchase them. Our transparent complicity in the market and the proximity of the think/market spaces to the work space will help steer the discussion back to the emotional conflict between ideals and reality.

Well, David, it's got you calling us fucking idiots, so I imagine it will be a continuing point of contention to (mis)interpret other people's ideas. Good luck with your Chinese application torture idea, and I hope you make such good art that people will be willing to suffer to acquire it.


Edward_ said...

I had taken "fucking idiots" to be a term of endearment...but this exchange gets at the heart of something else we simply must explore in #class, which is the mythology that artists are a class of people with identical interests.

We talk about "artists getting power" as if they'd share that power democratically, rather turn on each other in some fashion that made "Lord of the Flies" look like Sesame Street.

Nothing unites disparate people like having a common opponent...nothing tears such fragile unions apart, though, like throwing something worth fighting for (i.e., power, resources, authority, fame, recognition, right of authorship, etc.) into their midst.

David Cauchi said...

First of all, a general point: We are all fucking idiots.

Specific responses follow.

William and Edward:

Thanks for your considered replies and best of luck with your show. I genuinely hope it's a success, and I'll be watching with interest.


As I mentioned in my post above, I realise I'm not in any position to complain about what you did with my suggestion. What you do is up to you.

However, I thought what you did do with it was funny, and said so. I also said how I'd've done it differently. (Note that I mentioned I have no intention of using the idea myself.)

But this is rehashing what has already been said, and is boring. Let's assume that each other can read.

I'm a little surprised that you seem to expect your show's visitors/participants to be mostly working class salt of the earth types who need to be coddled. I'm not familiar with New York demographics but imagine that those who have an interest in art but who can't normally afford it wouldn't be working class as such.

Ye gods, if you can draw in a predominantly working class crowd, that'd be a real achievement, something no-one's ever managed yet. The cry would resound throughout the land: 'Hats off, gentlemen!'

Regardless of the composition of the crowd, though, I think that making things easy for people does them no favours. Nietzsche didn't just come up with a good line, but was on to something important, when he said:

To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities – I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not – that one endures.

And, yes, continuing points of contention are also a good thing. It's good to see that you and Jennifer don't see exactly eye to eye. Hopefully, that will be fruitful.

Edward: You've hit the nail on the head. On more than one occasion in the past I've been told that I shouldn't hassle other artists, or say mean things, 'because we're all in this together' or some such hippie nonsense.

Live at war with your peers and yourself!

David Cauchi said...

Interested readers can find William's response to me here.

visitors since 29 March 2004.