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Tuesday 06.11.19

« City survey left out the Arts, add them back! | Main

Early June Links

I have a massive polyglot of reviews (and some even larger pieces, like my 20 year lookback etc.) for you PORT readers but to get you warmed up here's whats going on.

So what happens when a prominent up and coming artist uses someone's photo of abuse in their artwork without consent? The hypocrisy goes viral, even if it is touted as one of the 6 most daring works at the art fair. When the woke it, broke it? If this is real, its a shame and I have an intense dislike for anyone that makes money off of the pain of others.

Apparently our own Eva Lake is one of the best things at the Volta Basel art fair... she's too edgy for Portland's not so edgy art institutions etc, but Eva Lake the real deal and has been for a long time (our artists out pace our cultural organs).

Changes at MoMA via Roberta Smith, the larger the institution typically the more catch up they have to do. Thing is when they have hollowed out their expertise making curatorial subject to other modes of the day and "following the parade," they lose their intrinsic potency. An institution needs to embrace the crisis they represent rather than attempt to address it via architectural program. IE let the artists reconfigure the institution via empowering curatorial expertise rather than muting it.

Still more questionable decisions at the Barnes...

Then there is this issue over art criticism. Look, the critic's work is not there to produce a book report on the artist's source material. Criticism isnt a service industry for the art produced either. Instead, its a kind of civic test for alternate worldviews to see if the art translates and remains potent under different criteria... even to experienced observers who compare them to the history of what has gone before. That said, radical art is something so rare that it cannot be expected, especially in major museum surveys. Now expecting a show to have some edge is an entirely different thing... how close does the work skate on the thin, sometimes very uncomfortable veneers of decorum and understanding? Most institutional group shows dont really ruffle feathers any more outside of single points of outrage. The thin skin of understanding has become a brittle thing these days and professional art critics do measure the degree of suppleness on display beyond the simple questions of did I like/not like it?

The 2019 Hallie Ford fellows list was announced. It is good that a photographer was included this time, but the fact that is notable is lame. Still, artists who have to plug in their work or full on multimedia installation art are once again not in effect and as usual its not a very edgy list with artists that are super well established or are arch academicians. Sure its the Ford Foundation and they can do what they want but it actually effects artistic output... so many artists have gotten the memo. If you want a HF, use your hands or body, be funny, nothing too confounding/confrontational, no microchips or video (anything that has to be plugged in?), no large scale installation work and teaching at a school + community work is a plus (we have a problem supporting individual ambition too, see Rothko). When the HFF's first came out artists that were doing their best work got the awards... that changed when they added more judges and I think 3 works a lot better. I've sat on a national panels and usually the more judges you have the more it rounds off the sharper edges of selection (one time we changed the process halfway through to specifically value those edges). Portland and Oregon's art institutions, awards, etc have a problem of not rewarding edge and those artists who are currently peaking and making their best work... instead they just pile on well worn paths. Congrats to all the deserving artists, no intention to throw shade... I'm just pointing out a long standing problem. When the HFF's were initially instituted the were more indicative of giving a boost to promising mid career artists that were making Oregon a place with exceptional artists with an edge that were in need of resources to reach their full potential. Having 5 juror's rounds off the edges that the early 3 panel juries had... immersive installation art and digital media are is still being ignored. Perhaps Oregon requires an award that rewards edge and becomes a leading indicator rather than one that follows well worn paths of other awards and credentials? Culture is still a growth industry in Oregon and handing out money shouldnt have a dampening effect on the type of art produced (but it is). Hallie Ford should also make its awards as independent of other awards and agencies as possible if they really want to make the differences they espouse in the award mission statement.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 11, 2019 at 18:20 | Comments (0)


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