Two days before Christmas I received a note from a colleague. He felt that much of the art getting made today is devoid of presence—that it’s self-serving, ego-tripping, and fails to contribute to contemporary culture. He wrote to me because he felt he needed to do more to address this problem, and he wanted to talk ideas. Now, I’ve never received an email like this, and you might say it sounds like the woes of a bitter or disillusioned artist. Who’s making this ego-tripping art anyway? The fact is that, like anything, the state of the art world isn’t so bleak.
That said, I wasn’t surprised to get his email. Art culture has become dominated by art fairs, biennials, auctions and celebrity ass-licking—the kind of culture that demands short, superficial viewing. That makes the field a whole lot less interesting for everyone except a small sliver of participants— and the likelihood of my receiving a note like this much greater. In that way, I found the letter a relief: another person working in the art world had a positive vision for the arts, and he’d reached out for help with steering the art world toward more responsibility to the cultural community.
What did I tell him? At first, I wasn’t sure. Art F City has a number of still-to-be announced community initiatives we need help with, but they have yet to be finalized. He couldn’t help with those. That said, I do run a blog, and I do have a column here at The L. So this year, I’m inviting my friend and others not just to talk about our market-driven art-world woes, but also to find a few answers. To that end, Art F City will work behind the scenes to help people in the art world seek out funds and other actionable solutions to the problems they identify. We’re writers by trade, but this year, we want to be active participants, too.