As this year, the year that will from now on be referred to as THAT year comes to an end, I couldn't help but wonder… what does it all mean. Do global pandemics need to happen for a reason? No. But happened it did, and I am curious if we, we the Royal We of the Art world, have become better or worse for it. Hey, Johann König created a magazine during quarantine. And an app. And a podcast. And several opportunities to charge you to visit his salesroom. I don't know if he became better; he certainly became MORE. What have you been up to?
We did try out some new marketing terms: the Platform, the Dispatches, the Broadcasts. Then we gave up and settled for OVR - which, surprisingly, does not stand for Only Very Rich. Frieze magazine took it a step further and decided to coin the term OWA. Not a drill; this does stand for Older Woman Artist.
We learned how to create a 3D space on the internet. Sort of. Kinda. You know; work in progress—chair in front of Painting, that kind of thing.
We learned to support each other more. Well, galleries decided to antagonize each other less, not sure we artists understand the concept because this would be called unionizing, and we are nowhere near that. But galleries did come together in various shapes worldwide, sometimes in name only, sometimes actually pooling resources and part of the profits; from Platform in LA to New York Art Dealers collaborative FAIR to our very own Berlin Views. Did these initiatives transform the market and bring in the big cash? Not really. But this is a marathon, not a sprint. Do you think 2021 will be any better in sales? Ha.
We learned to spill the tea about abuse and horrible working conditions in the art world. Again, sort of. Anonymously and online ( because where else?), we are waiting for the other shoe to drop on people everyone has known, and everyone can tell, are monsters. Some heated conversations, a few new popular meme accounts, and a whole lot of blocking. There have been few real life repercussions; in fact, I can only think of one.
We learned to say Black Lives Matter. We put a Black square on our social media profile and used the hand emoji. Not that one, the other one. We hashtagged the hell out of BLM, and the savviest of us hired a PR firm to prop our empire up as white saviors. (Is art journalism even relevant anymore?).
Here are some (not) novel ideas for 2021. Contracts. HR departments. (Departments, not your pal's white daughter). Reimburse art labor. Buy art locally. Make space for Black Leadership.