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Monday 11.15.10

« Hold | Main | Film + Installation: Tomonari Nishikawa »

Turner Prize and CNAA's

Art21 has a nice summary judgment of this year's Turner Prize candidates. Im definitely for Otilith Group too (I'm a sucker for extra geeky snappy-looking shows), which means they probably won't win.

As we have seen with the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards these types of show rarely pick the strongest artist in that iteration's show... it's kind of an institutional hallmark to pick something blander... the bigger the institution the less willing they are to make consequential decisions about taste (instead they follow). BTW The CNAA's are underway again and will take place in June 2011. Will they prove consequential like the Turner Prize was in the 90's (less so now but still major) or just another navel gazing exercise in things we already know about the region? The last one wasn't bad but it wasn't terribly influential either and didn't really pose a challenge to the NW identity. Also, there wont be an outside curator this time to winnow down the nominees like last time, just a panel of PAM's photography Northwest and contemporary curators and the director... yes a panel.

Only time will tell if they need to remind everyone that about 70% of Northwest Art involves high doses of self-conscious craft and tree (or logging town) references [note my own work often references trees and lumber]. Of course the other 30% matters (same goes to the overdue Northwest Biennial in Tacoma which is still making a bid for consequentiality). That 30% (a disproportionately active and internationally relevant) minority is what has changed this region. This is extra true of Portland where the split is more 50/50 and driven by young artists often educated elsewhere. Don't misunderstand me, I'm hardly against craft, and we should draw finer critical distinctions. I usually prefer the kind of work that draws less attention to technique and more towards end outcomes and overall gestalt. Why? ...because it is stronger by arising from it's own necessity or "integrity of solution" rather than outright technical gimmicks (examples: Roxy Paine, Donald Judd, Robert Irwin, Pierre Huyghe and Anish Kapoor... all technical as hell and yet ultimately an incidental side effect of the artist's solutions as manifest in the heuristics of the work). Perhaps it's because I believe the work of art ultimately has to speak to the viewers not a smaller group of makers. Of course non-art is a different thing but there are still ways to address it as design.

My point is simple (though it rattles some):

It would be healthy to see the active minority represented (usually new media installation) and engaged by a museum in a way that doesn't have to be self consciously crafty (such as: anything knit, woven, felted, carved or dovetailed) or nature driven. Oh yeah and since I'm wishing for things that wont happen... how about installing it well in a non cluttered manner?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 15, 2010 at 15:10 | Comments (0)


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