Last night I began Seven Days in the Art World. I can tell already that a few things have changed since its publication – we are supposedly no longer in the heady boom times the author Sarah Thornton describes. But she nails some things which haven’t changed yet at all and brought a smile to my face.
She’s amused by what she calls the “status anxiety” of nearly every player, whether they are mighty dealers, collectors or critics. Everyone is always after something they’ve yet to attain and artists might be the most insecure of all. “I find it tedious when I bump into people who insist on giving me their CV highlights,” says John Baldessari. “I’ve always thought that wearing badges or ribbons would solve it. If you’re showing at the Whitney or at the Tate, you could announce it on your jacket. Artists could wear stripes like generals, so everyone would know their rank.”
This establishment of rank has sometimes given me a very circuitous route to finding out on the radio just what the hell an artist is doing. The exhibitions, where they are at and who has curated them, have been divulged as though we’re following a very Grand Tour. 15 minutes later, I’m still wondering, yes, but …now, what was the work?
This happens in small and large ways but it’s something which right now concerns me because KBOO is first and foremost for The People. Not really just the art world. I want to serve the art world but I have bigger responsibilities than that. And when The People hear about where and with whom someone got their MFA and where they showed after that and who curated them, well, you know this is a language the art world understands very clearly, but The People start tuning out. Because they thought Art Focus was a show about art you see.