^From one of the art news sites I follow. Hyperallergic has lots of good observations about the state of the world via art criticism on their list.
As an practitioner of Performance Art, I could have decided to take being #2 with a sting. Except, obviously they’re right, plus being #2 on the list does make PAs near the top of the least powerful which I think also means we’re actually near the bottom of the empowered? That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.
Despite having some lighthearted moments the article also summarizes some really sad things happening where Art and Society intersect. Some things have been the same forever, read #8, #16, #17, #20, #6 for instance.
You can say this news doesn’t affect the average person or non-career artist (folks who still make their living outside studio arts and such), but that isn’t true because it creates huge hurdles for those people trying to reach the professional level. True, some pressure is just paying dues, but more and more the art world comes to look like just another game-field where the Haves play keep-away with the Have Nots.
Raise school tuition, misuse and abuse of interns, narrowing opportunities for first time artists on gallery schedules, and the ladder gets more rickety and wobblier each generation. You wind up standing on your friends’ shoulders instead of helping them up along with you; you don’t have energy or time to support your peers who’re being arrested, and you’ve no authority to stand up to the gatekeepers who have you fetching coffee instead of teaching you to navigate the maze they’ve built, you can’t see the institutional sexism/racism/elitism because you’re focused so much on trying to get your own brass ring.
You won’t know if you’re lucky to be where you are, if you never get to see the game board … If you can’t step back and admire the whole canvas.
Thankfully, there are many options for creative people to make their own way now. This article from The Atlantic admittedly has a lot of problems with blanket negativity, but it does point to a solution that anyone with a background in DIY culture can easily pick up and apply: create hard, and make your own opportunities. The author, Billy Deresiewicz, has a few things to say about precious Cultural Gatekeepers needed for quality control that are arguable from both sides. I think the most that really needs to be said is: don’t put out bad work, don’t coast on your past achievements, and be aware you don’t exist in a vacuum where your merit is supreme. Be aware of the people working around you, challenge yourself to be better than them, and challenge them too, this is how you’ll develop a vocabulary to legitimately defend your choices, and speak the language you need in order make connections in the field you’re trying to enter.
In 2015 do yourself a favor and be Powerless. Having nothing to lose is a great foundation for taking creative (and professional) risks. Remember where you came from, and when the time comes don’t become another hurdle the next generation has to overcome.