It is around this time of the year (Armory time!) where you pack your suitcase full of giddy anticipation to start on the roller coaster art fair ride through the Basels, the Friezes, and the Biennals that will eventually strand you on the South Beach in December, smeared lipstick, heels in hand, sporting a full blown art melancholia and thinking...This is so fucked up!
I have a lot of conversations lately about how fucked up the art world is, none of which I am allowed to or want to publish here. Not allowed to because understandably, and sadly predictably, nobody wants to risk their reputation. Do not really want to because this is not what Bpigs is about.
Correctly assessing the reality of a situation and acting upon this assessment is a number one priority, it is really of vital importance for the medical, marketing, judicial, hell almost every profession, but not for artists.
I mean what are you going to do about it?
Will you not participate in a prominent show because the curator, subject, and/or organization are on the sad side of lazy? Will you quit your gallery because they are systematically paying late, hogging your works, and prioritizing their bank accounts over your career? Will you tell a collector off who is being an abnoxious prick? Will you storm out of a VIP dinner because the (other) prick next to you is feeling you up under the table? Will you sue your editor for cutting your article to unrecognizable threads? Will you sue your supervisor for stealing your idea? Will you quit your job because you are are systematically overworked, underpayed and/or your boss abuses you? We have all been there, we have all considered the alternative, but we ended up eating the proverbial shit.
There are many things one can suggest on the after-school-special spectrum of reality: initiate dialog, stay firm, negotiate at the beginning and not the end of professional relationships, believe in your value, pick your fights, if your gallerists are assholes get yourself some choices and if your boss IS abusing you, sue his sorry ass--no doubt about that...
But this is a not a post about how fucked up the art world is. This is about how you can fuck things up in the art world. A list of schemes that can be done, have been done, some on the edges of reality (and legality).
Another way of running things IS possible. If you think about it, nothing, really nothing, in the art world is set in stone--not the prices, not the fees, no contracts, no lives depending on it--just colors, dreams, bubbles, and billions! And yet we are so unfree.
I wanted to dedicate this text to all of you who feel stuck, are losing, or lost hope. But I do not think it would help.
Just shit or get off the pot, people.
This is for all of you who are trying to make some kind of difference. Send us or comment below your ideas, plots, and schemes. They do not need to be completely legal, but doable. We will make a post out of the best and credit you (or not).
#howtofuckthingsup - part one
1. If you are a photo realist or an abstract painter/sculptor-basically I think any artist can do it - except maybe performers working with fatal injuries. For every work you create and let the market absorb in its primary and secondary levels, create an identical twin work, which you will give away for free. Give it to your blind aunty, your alcoholic cousin, to a random person on the street, to somebody who has nothing to do with art. Bind them contractually to not sell or admit to owning the twin work until your death. (Then you kind of have to do your best to become a very expensive artist otherwise it is no fun). After your death your value might rise or plummet, rich people might become poorer or poor people richer. We will call this scheme the Cornelius Gurlitt. I know what you are going to say, it is strenuous, but hey! Get your assistants to do it. Twice the trouble, double the (postmortem) fun.
2. If you are a famous artist being courted for an interview, ask for the youngest intern in the magazine to do an exclusive. Give the poor bastard a chance to bypass all the coffee making hours or at least something to talk about in the office kitchen. She is bound to prepare more and is probably better than any high-class journalist. What’s that? You are afraid the intern is going to mess things up? What do you care - you are a famous artist.
3. If you are a collector. (I have said this before). And I do not mean the sad kind of collector who buys students works for pennies and resells them within 6 months. I mean a real one. For every "blue chip" artist you buy, ask the gallerist to throw in a young artist too (a black chip). The few thousands more will not make a difference to you now, but they will to him and who knows… you might get millions in the future (and/or a place in heaven). Also, buy works of the assistants of your favourite artists. You know they are the ones doing all the work. They are bound to be talented/ well trained.
4. Share your VIP invites. If you are not going to that super exclusive pool party, give your invite to someone else, preferably someone random. Or if you go, bring somebody random with you. We all know the little phrase “This is a personal invitation” on the bottom has maybe as much practical use as “fasten your seatbelt”. You do not really need an invite to get to most parties, but as somebody who has met the same people all over the globe in sun or rain, I beg of you: Mix up this incestuous social cocktail of blase, social fear, and boredom. We will call this: The Matthias
5. Rotate the plates at your VIP dinner. Okay, that might be a bit too much; but ask everybody to give some of his food to the person on his left. An adaptation of the musical chairs game we played at parties. Let us call this The FiggevonRosen because this is where I first tried it. It works wonders for the party mood. Well ... except for that sour curator...
6. If you are a curator by the way. Arghhh ... Forget it.
7. Ask the bigger gallery to consign through the smaller gallery. Gatzum!! Fireworks!! Aha! I was surprised to find out the usual mother gallery “finders fee” kind of blends out when the newer gallery is a “bigger name”. (We will do the Games of Galleries in a future post). Surely nobody would want to trouble Gagosian for (comparably) pennies, but then again surely he can afford it, it is the younger galleries who need the support. I asked a more experienced friend of mine how to handle this hot potato, and he mentally patted me on the shoulder and said, “Let it go. Despina. Just let it go!” I do not agree. Make Larry, Harry, and your friendly mega gallerist next door pay. Loyalty is not a country in the former USSR and business ethics is not an abstract concept. This scheme is called The Judy
8. And if you are a stewardess- for God's sake- matchmake!
to be continued
Stamatia Dimitrakopoulos is a blogger, contributor in LIFO, works at Kennedy Magazine and Ceremony Magazine and MUMOK - Museum moderner Kunst Wien