Inside the Inside?

January 2, 2008

So a fellow student of mine suggested that one of my year-end show ideas–to make a kind of Zagat Guide to CalArts–wouldn’t function right because it would be an inside joke.  The problem is that, at $90k, this stuff is no joke, and anybody with two brain cells to rub together in the larger art world expects a kind of Black Friday onrush of student art without calling it out as such, so the “joke” isn’t to make light of the fact that the exhibition is kind of absurd but to say:

1) What prevents us from openly acknowledging that we’re competing with each other for a limited amount of space and attention?

2) What prevents us from openly acknowledging that the deck is stacked in favor of wealthy and good-looking artists who make easily-assimilated work?

And I’m saying us because it’s not like I’m above all this; I’m just wondering why the pretense.  If you look at all this in a Deleuzian hypercaptialism sense, maybe my strategy should be documenting buying the right clothes, going to the gym a lot, starving myself and making a lot of big, ugly paintings so I can be sure of getting a solo show in LA within a year, and then exhibiting the process of making myself into a marketable artist.  The problem with that is that I’m too lazy to go to the gym.  And I’m poor. 

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2 Responses to “Inside the Inside?”

  1. Michael Says:

    I don’t feel we (as grad students) are competing with each other at all. In some abstract sense we’re competitors, like GM and Toyota are, but on the lot, the sale of a Prius doesn’t cut into the sales of Hummers. I would feel better about myself as a human being if I made my money teaching and continued to make art that interests me, rather than foul my psyche by making easily-assimilated work.

  2. Nicholas Says:

    Okay, but the carefully-crafted illusion that the art world is not a captialist enterprise like any other is what both allows us to feel collegial toward each other but also be unprepared to become businesspeople complete with all the cut-throat/back-stabbing/friendly competition that implies.

    The system of non-profit art spaces has collapsed, and while museums used to champion “difficult work” for a while, now they’re simply extensions of the gallery system. Your work is brilliant, but you’re never going to get a teaching job unless you show your work, and it might be another 10 or 20 years before the kind of work you and I make comes back into fashion.


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