Thursday, December 11, 2003

Perception versus Reality #75


Last night's shindig at Quartier Ephemere was interesting to say the least. One would figure that between the three organizations that everybody who was anybody in the Art World would have been there.

Not quite.

By my best guess there were about 150 folk who showed up. There are a lot more folk involved in the Montr�al Art World than 150, and off the top of my head I could get to at least 50 missing folk without breaking a sweat.

On the other hand those that were there did have a grand time. Myself included. Being able to talk to Bryne, Melony, Kristi, Phil, Phillip, Pierre, Dawn, Cas, and everybody else was good. I used it as an opportunity to introduce a whole whack of folk to the gallery. And given how strong the fear factor is about my gallery, any and all opportunities are appreciated.

I'm looking forward to reading the Montreal issue of Canadian Art especially to reading between the lines and seeing who isn't there. Off the top of my head I can imagine that there are a whack. And this is where the perception versus reality kicks in.

The perception is that getting your name in Canadian Art (and by extension Parachute is a good thing). Therefore not being in either of them is a bad thing. When in fact the amount of people who become aware of your name due to either magazine is miniscule - as evidenced by the turn out last night, and the number of readers of each magazine.

Parachute is not attempting to expand the ideas of Art in any way shape or form. They are furthering the idea of the White Cube, and doing everything that they can to scare away anybody who might be curious as to what the fuss is about.

Canadian Art is attempting to broaden the discussion, but unfortunately there is a lot of baggage that they are carrying, and getting them to turn on a dime is very difficult. I like the direction that they are going in, but only wish that they would get there faster.

Perception: Visual Art is a good thing.
Reality: The amount of people who go to see contemporary Canadian visual art is minuscule.

Perception: Visual Art is difficult.
Reality: Most people don�t trust their eyes.

Perception: Visual Art is expensive.
Reality: Going to a gallery is free.

This probably could serve as my manifesto, or rant. The Canadian Contemporary Art World, as represented my Parachute, is a snobbish clan that attempts to serve its self-interest by continuing to further the idea that Art is complicated, tough, and makes your brain hurt. They regularly write paragraphs like this:

"Replicating a human body in artificial form has been a goal since antiquity, although it was not until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that the term automaton came into prominence to describe these ingenious inventions. In Enlightenment Europe, the famous mechanisms simulating human and animal activities � Wolfgang von Kempelen�s chess player, Jacques de Vaucanson�s eating and defecating duck � raised perplexing questions about the definition of humanity as well as the boundaries between living beings and inanimate matter. Despite being marvels of deception, these devices incarnated the promise of mastering nature and overcoming the body�s mortality, yet also generated anxious sensations of the uncanny".

Umm, have YOU ever heard of Wolfgang von Kempelen or Jacques de Vaucanson before? Didn�t think so. If Parachute wanted to make the Art World more inviting to most people, how about a reference to Frankenstein the movie, (or the book) or if you want to be fancy, Der Golem. I don�t think anything would be lost at all. All Jim Drobnick is trying to do by making references like the above is telling you, the reader, that he is smarter than you are. All he is really doing is showing you that he has more books than you do.

Talking down to your audience is a surefire way to make sure that your audience remains small. Sorta like making a club that requires a $50,000 annual membership fee. But at least the Augusta National Golf Club is public about wanting to be a bunch of snobs.

By being a bunch of snobs, Chantal and company are attempting to limit the people who have access to the approximately $20 million that the Canada Council handed out last year.

How about this as a re-write?

Pretty much since the beginning of time, people have tried or wanted to make a Frankenstein monster, you know, Golems and the like. Back in the 1800s, they invented a word; automaton to describe what we now know as robots. As is the case when people try to mess with nature, there were (and still are) a whole mess of questions that get raised. And believe it or not, some of those questions were scary.

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