Posts tagged: discourse
On this last day of the Institutions by Artists convention, a container that has welled up many questions and quandaries I will be unpacking soon, my most immediate thoughts are actually preoccupied with consequences rather than presuppositions.
While it has been shown to me time and time again how artists, curators, art historians, critics, academics, politicians, mannequins, hyenas, goons, and bureaucrats can congregate and discuss AT LENGTH about the discourse of discourse, I am far more moved by the outcomes and tangents radiating from this said discourse.
For example: not that this post on the Rennie/Bartels saga by Michael Turner needs any more publicity than it has already received, reportedly viewed by thousands within the first day alone, but after a lot of whispered murmurs and silent gasps performed over this weekend over artists and institutions as this story circulated, I strongly feel that the gesture of this post deserves greater solidarity.
It is not easy to write, especially so “freely” as this story suggests. There is an unspoken ethics to airing out these stories that greatly affect professional and personal connections that imbue the very core of our communities. Slipping between the mind frame of the IBA convention, be it professionalization and/or self-determination, I am pressed to remember that institutions by and for artists are fundamentally built on the messy intricacies of interpersonal relationships.
Formally, the story of this evening at Wing Sang is so absurd that I can only believe in its full veracity of what is revealed about each human being, which in this case, is a three-pronged thorn on how to build a self-legacy. The narrative of the story and its revelation goes beyond provocation — it is the position from which to tell this story that needs to be supported. I am not interested in taking sides on the saga, as frankly, nobody is coming out of this unscathed, but what has grabbed my attention in this current moment is the overwhelming apathy surrounding this story and a collective unwillingness to address what we could possibly generate from all of this.
By we, I am invoking myself along with ANYONE ELSE besides Rennie and Bartels’s clashing visions and egos. The future of art in the city of Vancouver is not controlled or destined by any individual or institution, no matter how many stories they spit out through The Globe and Mail. Art in a city will be determined by those who choose to engage, because art, if we truly believe in such a thing, cannot escape its city and its citizens.
I read Turner’s post as such an invocation to open up the conversation, by pulling back the silver curtain to shatter certain illusions about these people, and to invest, perhaps morally, into this battle of the wills that has placed Vancouver’s art institutions as its stake. Just as this convention on institutions by artists wraps, a meeting that in the end was more reinforcing than problematizing, I am more interested in the forthcoming tangents.
Sorry we’re sick and hung over and late. I didn’t think it would be so loud in here at this time. Can I get a Caesar? Hot toddy? Thanks. Okay let’s get started. We’ve been gone for the last three years, just getting back last summer from graduate school in San Francisco. But before I left I was really into what was going on in Vancouver, and then I left, thankfully, and coming back, I’m not sure if I just learned more or if things had really changed, but I was suddenly tired of the same old conversations … about photo-conceptualism. It has made Vancouver special, but I still see artists having to negotiate this legacy whether or not they work in that vein.
Art in Vancouver has been very serious, researched, conceptual, and about place, but there are also artists who are less concerned with research and concept and working almost in expressionism, who may or may not be working in reaction to photo-conceptualism, but they are making very different work that is not being written about, and they are making a lot of it.
We are speaking in total generalizations, but bottom line is that we are interested in being comprehensive. All these spaces that pop up and get shut down because they’re not going to get the type of funding that go to the institutions and artist run centres so they operate illegally and sell booze to pay the way until they’re caught. There are different levels of Vancouver’s art scene and we want to represent it all in one space, so hence, a website. We are not just trying to be reactionary, but there are going to be reactionary moments.
It’s really loud in here, can you repeat that again? We are interchangeably using those words, “website,” “magazine,” “listing” for now, but we’re focused on creating a space where people can get in touch with the community that is not necessarily being served that well on the internet at the moment. We want to be a resource used by galleries, artists, and visitors. What’s really lacking in Vancouver is a space for reviews which are good for cv building and critical feedback. There’s a history of print culture here and academic publishing, but surprisingly not a more accessible internet presence to connect Vancouver outward.
Coming from America, people were just doing things, and that was great, it was almost expected that someone to start a gallery or just go and do something. Here it is more reserved and passive. We are slow to act and we are focused on community than individually driven. Some would say it’s an insecure arts community that are not well funded and not well respected beyond a small niche market, so it’s also a self-protected passiveness. But we should note that Decoy is a collective endeavour with an ethos of an Artist Run Space. At present, our business model is to be determined.
Should we get another round? We’ll need a minute. Okay, let’s get another round. We both worked at the Wattis Institute and Vancouver does have a great international reputation judging from the artists that were being constantly programmed, but there are also different scenes going on. We had to keep telling people, “There’s more than just these same people we all know about already!” In that way, we are trying to be supportive of the arts community in a different way than we normally see. We are trying to be supportive in a more direct way, in a critical way.
We are employing different styles of writing and Decoy will gain shape as it moves along. We are not only working with professional or self-identified arts writers. We want to have sharp accessible writing, but we also want to work with writers and new voices who will approach art without the same baggage that an arts writer might have. There have been times when I am disgusted with what I read. “Reviews” that are actually regurgitated artist statements and glorified press releases disguised in descriptive language. We were inspired by Art Practical, though AP is much more expansive in scope. We are interested in different perspectives, which we see as valuable. We are trying to take arts writing out of its comfort zone.
I appreciate magazines. I think they’re beautiful. Full of advertising. Print culture will always be there, but we are really interested in doing something online because it’s timely. We don’t want to put out a review three months after the show closed. A website is dynamic and we can only hope that people will read a review and feel compelled to go see the show and have a dialogue with the show and the review. Good question. We understand that nepotism and advertising will have to be negotiated, but in the beginning, we are drawing on our friends because that’s where a community starts, from who you know, but I already know that the shows that repel me the most will likely be the shows I send writers out to because those are the shows that we want to engage with. We are opening up the door to anyone, but we will be negotiating and deciding what’s good and what’s bad art and arts writing as we are also not a free for all.
It’s been tough lately, especially for the arts community who lost The Playhouse and The Ridge. Grants have been getting cut for years. We were in the States when the gaming funds got cut and I remember people were really freaking out then. But I do think this crisis could be a good thing as some spaces have been getting homogenous. We have to be innovative again, and while it’s sad, in a lot of ways the game is changing and different models are going to be in use. It is going to be tough because Vancouver is so regulated and expensive. Rentcouver? That makes sense too.
I’m just sick of working for other people. I am a creative person and I isolate myself in my work and my labour as an artist, but my creative practice and my career are so far apart. It is a solitary practice, though broken with exchanges with galleries and curators, who are a different breed all together. I just got distracted, sorry I didn’t hear what you said. I just ordered fries. Can you repeat that again? Sure there will be some gate keeping. It’s inevitable. It’s our judgement, but it’s also reflective of what we get. We can only respond to what we get, so I hope I am challenged to promote and discuss art shows I can’t stand, but which doesn’t mean they’re not worth promoting.
Drinking revives me. Don’t write that down. Vancouver is a really privileged place and there are a lot of people who have taken their privilege for granted. There’s a sense of entitlement to have cheap rent and to have a beautiful city. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s so warm in the bathroom, we should just do the interview down there. We just want to make Vancouver less impenetrable. It can be a cold, cold city. We know someone who saved and saved to come here and lasted two days. That’s actually not an exaggeration. He was a delicate sort, but still, that says something.
We came up with this idea on a sunny day on the beach last summer. How Vancouver. We had heatstroke. I was finding it hard to re-enter Vancouver. I know what’s going on, but I don’t know if I feel all that comfortable. There’s no hustle here. West coast vibe is real.
Vancouver is consumed with its own history. Vancouver loves to look at itself, probably from all the glass towers that look like mirrors. It’s just where we are. Mr. Peanut is the epitome of Vancouver art to me. Really? I would move to California in a heartbeat. We have no expectations. This can completely fail or completely succeed. The internet is always happening.
Amy Fung sat down with Decoy Magazine (Lauren Marsden, Sasha Krieger, and Max Stockholder) for a conversation about intentions. The text has been transcribed from scrawled quotes and mental notes and has been approved (sort of) by Decoy Magazine. Look for their launch in Spring 2012.