Monday, January 15, 2007

As you might suspect I disagree with Andrea Carson


Over at View on Canadian Art (quite a nice blog if I might say so myself - this post has got to be an anomaly or something) Ms. Carson attempts to write the big picture on why visual art in Canada gets the short end of the stick. (Go read it, I'll wait. My post will make much more sense that way.)

Somehow she misses the 32 31 magazines dedicated 100% to the visual arts here in Canada:
  1. Canadian Art magazine - http://www.canadianart.ca/
  2. Vie des arts - http://www.viedesarts.com/
  3. Parcours - No website that I know of
  4. Magazin'Art - http://www.magazinart.com/
  5. Esse - http://www.esse.ca/
  6. Galleries West - http://www.gallerieswest.ca/
  7. Parachute - http://www.parachute.ca/
  8. Border Crossings - http://www.bordercrossingsmag.com/
  9. C Magazine - http://www.cmagazine.com/
  10. Colour Magazine - http://www.colormagazine.ca/
  11. Coupe - http://www.coupe-mag.com/
  12. CV ciel variable -http://www.cielvariable.ca/
  13. Azure - http://www.azuremagazine.com/
  14. Blackflash - http://www.blackflash.ca/
  15. C-Ing Magazine - http://www.c-ingmagazine.ca/
  16. Espace - http://www.espace-sculpture.com/
  17. Front - http://front.bc.ca/
  18. Fuse - http://www.fusemagazine.org/
  19. Fusion - http://www.clayandglass.on.ca/magazine.htm
  20. Inter - http://www.inter-lelieu.org/inter_pres.html
  21. Inuit Art - http://www.inuitart.org/
  22. Kiss machine - http://www.kissmachine.org/
  23. Mix - http://www.mixmagazine.com/
  24. Muse - http://www.museums.ca/
  25. Prefix - http://www.prefix.ca/
  26. Spacing - http://spacing.ca/
  27. Studio - http://www.craft.on.ca/info/publication_magazine.html
  28. Tart Magazine - http://www.tartmagazine.com/
  29. Vernissage - http://www.national.gallery.ca/english/default_3037.htm
  30. Visual Arts News - http://www.visualartsnews.ca/
  31. Art Le Sabord - http://www.lesabord.qc.ca/
  32. ETC - http://www.dsuper.net/%7Eetcmtl/etc%202.html
Somehow she thinks that the media (whomever that is) has blinders on. Might I point out that she initially wrote the article for something looking suspiciously like 'The Media.'

In the Gazette (one of our local things here in Montreal that is called the media) there is an extremely popular column called Family activities, museums and more. Or in other words as Ms. Carson puts it, 'seminar series, art walks and tours.' I don't know diddly about what happens in Toronto, but the local version of the CBC here has the Arts Calendar which also promotes 'seminar series, art walks and tours' among other things.

As for TV, I've appeared on Global TV (at some ungodly hour in the morning) so I can only assume that other galleries and 'seminar series, art walks and tours' have as well.

Heck! I've heard ads for Avenue Art Gallery on CJAD, Zeke's Gallery advertised on the Team 990. If they aren't media, then obviously I don't know what is.

Somehow she slips in a paragraph about new media art into the article. I'm not quite certain why, and she then exacerbates the situatation by insisting that Canadians were 'pioneers' in the field. Ummm, Ms Carson, might I suggest that you at least edit the Wikipedia entry for 'New Media Art' so that there is slightly more Canadian content than the one reference to a writer.

She continues on the video tip until she prints a quote from Jessica Bradley. “The public doesn’t have the means of sensing the zeitgeist – they only hear about art when there’s a huge blockbuster.” Umm, Ms. Bradley and Ms. Carson can I introduce you to Cesar Saez, Montreal artist. No matter how large his banana is, I don't think anyone is going to be calling it a 'blockbuster.' But it is garnering some serious press. I certainly hope that he hired a clipping service, it would make his mom real happy.

But where she really starts veering completely off track is when she says 'media coverage feeds the market by creating consumer interest and then demand.' Uh-Un, No, Wrong-O Boy-O! Your Bad. That's a mistake. And it isn't correct either.

If media coverage creates consumer interest, then why are there more reviews in newspapers than previews? If media coverage creates consumer interest why is the news all about things that have already happened? Why isn't is called the 'gonna come' and mostly write things about the future?

Ms. Carson, advertising attempts, and tries to create consumer interest. Sometimes it works (see Celine Dion). Sometimes it doesn't work (see New Coke and Mobile ESPN). Advertising sometimes use media as the medium to distribute their advertising (see any newspaper or TV station). Sometimes they don't (see billboards along the 401, or any planes flying banners).

Blaming the chronic undervalue of Canadian Art on the lack of coverage in the media is like blaming the baby seals for the lack of cod off the coast of Newfoundland. Her article then veers in a different direction, going on about current art market prices. Where I ask the question, what does Gerhard Richter's ideas on prices have to do with anything?

When Google's stock is priced at $505, Berkshire Hathaway at $110,000, then $14 million for a Warhol isn't out of line.

Then as she is coming to the home stretch, Ms. Carson begins to contradict herself. She writes 'The Canadian media, to a certain extent, does cover the visual arts.' Not exactly the same thing as 'While those of us in the visual arts often bemoan the lack of media attention in Canada' or 'Canada’s lack of visual arts coverage' or 'for the media to virtually ignore a $50,000 contemporary art prize is simply inexcusable.'

The last whipping boy is the lack of 'crossover between each city’s independent scene.' Which just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. What are Jim Munroe, Broken Pencil, Lola Magazine and scads upon scads of other things like them?

Instead of bemoaning the lack of Jeff Wall shows here in Canada, Ms. Carson might want to ask Mr. Wall himself why he did not want the show to come to Canada, and while it did show at the Tate, in fact it was a show organized for Schaulager Basel and I would sorta venture a guess that the exhibit was just a tad expensive.

Then things get personal, she touts how Toronto's Nuit Blanche got 3 times as many people as in Montreal to participate without mentioning how the one in Toronto happened in the Fall and Montreal's on a night in the middle of the winter when the temperature was sub zero.

Apologies for being all over the place here, but I was trying to approach Ms. Carson's post point-by-point without writing point by point. I might have been better served by waiting for a second draft.

But if you're interested, I think that most of the people covering the visual arts for the newspapers, radio stations, and TV shows, here in Montreal would be better off if they decided to cover something else - perhaps basketweaving, or go-karting. There are exceptions, and for the most part despite my thinking that they should be doing something else I actually like them as people.

If the major news outlets hired better people (such as it appears the Gazette is doing with Cameron Skene) then regular folk would read what was printed. If major news outlets continue to insist that folk read garbage masquerading as visual arts coverage, folk are going to do what they do with garbage – throw it out.

Then as soon as we get another self-made billionaire in Canada we will have yet another person who will go out of their way to support visual art in all its forms. Guy Laliberte appears to like collecting things, Daniel Langlois (not a billionaire) and Stephan Jarislowski are not as over the top and prefer to be (for the lack of a better term) more Canadian in their support of art.

-Rant Off, thanks for bearing with me.

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