Sunday, January 25, 2004

An Apotheosis of Freaking Desuetude


Read this, and then come back here, ok? I'll wait.

Read it, good. I only wish I could write as well as Dave Barry. Besides being a great writer, he does get it.

The idea that Art needs words like: limns, dialectical, venerate in order to be better understood is completely and thoroughly backwards. In this specific instance describe, logical and honor work just as well. The only thing that the big words serve to do, is puff up the ego of the writer, and prevent people from being interested in art. As an aside how many Hungarian films have you seen? And without subtitles? If you don't understand the language, then it is highly unlikely that you will participate in the activity.

Yesterday I was at a white cube for a round table discussion with seven artists. A white cube person dressed in black moderated it. The basic idea was three BIG questions about Art. In order they were something like:

1. Curators are writers are teachers are artists, what do you think?
2. When you make art, or curate an exhibition, to whom are you responsible?
3. How do you get people to come see your art?

But they were all asked with many multi-syllabic words in much longer and complicated sentences that approached paragraph length if not full-blown novels. I asked my question, and then sat back (I did not want to hijack the proceedings, sometimes being polite and deferential is not a bad idea). But man oh, man! trying to concentrate on a multi-part sentence that appears to be there only in order to give the person speaking it as much floor time as possible is not my idea of fun.

My question was "How do you define a curator?" As there were a whack of artists there, along with some other people who had a vested interest in the answers, it took some time to get through all of them. The answers were in no particular order, a person with power, a person who make decisions about art, a person who can help an artist get paid, and then the one that really pissed me off; a gatekeeper.

Art Gatekeepers use big words to prevent people from getting in. When what they should really be doing is greeting people and helping them to understand. Curators should really be acting as translators for the Artists and as hosts for the public. You invite someone into your house, the standard issue idea is to try and make them as comfortable as possible. Living in Montreal there are people who do not speak the same language, if they are friends of yours you don't let the Arabic speaking person hang around bored while you speak in Creole with the other friend.

That all being said, you should get your butt down to the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery. Chih Chien Wang's piece is very witty, and there are a couple of other pieces there that deserve your attention as well. Tell Piera and Michele I sent you.

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