11th May 2014
Is it plausible that rich people buy art because they wish to elevate artists to the same economic class with them?
I came up with this (very flimsy) theory while I was walking back to my studio from a nice Indian restaurant. I was dreaming about being rich. Not through art, but by doing something smart, like mobile apps or something.
Then I thought, hmm, could I still do these performances & other art things I'm doing now? Is there a credibility/class issue in being rich and doing low-effort monologues in poor artist-run gallery spaces? Is it slumming?
I'm doing good at the moment, actually, although it will most likely turn out to be rather fleeting. I got a sizeable grant for the year, and I've had some good work gigs outside art stuff. Then again, just before Christmas I was totally screwed and was desperately searching for paid work. Most likely I'm in that same situation again next year. If I won't be and be successful instead, will the situation get so kinda awkward for everyone that socio-economic gravity simply pushes me into next level? Like go there, hang out with your types.
(I took a lot of text away from here)
I once suggested calling this one art event "Living With Money". God I still love that title. As an artist, I do know how to live without money, but I don't know what to do then when you have it. Should I save it for future? Or spend it all in my projects? What about addressing the issue and lifting the money itself to a leading role in my practice? Should I just say no out of principle? Finally, is it true what they say, will money destroy everything?
Does my art lose its ethos if I don't really have to do it, ie. I'm rich and just making art as a recreational hobby (are there hobbies of other kind btw)? I heard today that that's what San Fransisco is like.
But I am already in that situation. Art is a hobby to me, in the sense that I don't have to do it. It doesn't really provide. Or it does now, but it's always (I'm 32) been so unreliable. I've been lucky enough to be paid to be an artist (as said, that's the situation right now, while I write this), but that's rare and quite temporary. Would I do art if I'd have to work on an entirely different job? I have and I would. Could I not do it? Sure, but this is where I end up back to the same two fundamental questions I tried to tackle in my previous posts:
Why do art?
What counts as doing it?
OK, so I would work as a nurse. In my spare time, I would write a blog post every day and publish it. Very few people would read it. Or maybe the nurse-writing-as-an-artist viewpoint would attract readers and a crowd would materialize itself. Well, maybe not. In any case, I would still do it.
Again, this is close what I'm doing already. I upload stuff to SoundCloud, these recordings that I sincerely consider to be my masterpieces, then six or so people take a listen to them.
I don't mind. But then I don't need to mind since I have this career, which culminates in actual attention and recognition (grants, opportunities to present my work, invitations, collegial thumbs-ups etc). Still, all this is mainly quite marginal. 13 people came to my event today at Ptarmigan. I thought that was amazing, being Mother's Day, weird-ish concept, 2pm as event starting time, people I've met already (btw, how come artists always fetishize unknown audience members? ah more abt thatl ater), and all that. I was super happy about everything, although I regret not taking time to speak more with people, listen to what they thought about it (of course not everyone wants to do so and it's fine).
I'm performing in these institutionalized spaces in Helsinki, for example in contemporary art museum Kiasma's theatre space in June (one night only though), but I think i've never had more than 200 people come to a thing I did, and those have been parties with booze (openings etc). Around 50 people is like a really great audience for me, 5-15 is the norm usually.
Though it's hard to see how the audience numbers would matter as such. If there's something important, I guess it's how people, both performers and audience members, feel about it. Like what do they experience, how do they value it. Furthermore, this is stuff that's very hard to measure. You just know if an event was successful in that sense.
Today I was feeling it was really meaningful and I was super happy I put the event together. We were both extremely pleased with our performance with Juhani Liimatainen, who I was playing electronic music with today at Ptarmigan. We had four improvised pieces, length 10 minutes for each. Titles were Slow, Fast, Loud, Quiet (not in that order). We told this to audience. I think it helped people to grasp the structure of the concert and therefore concentrate on the sounds. It was somewhat abstract (although with some reconizable samples), so-called experimental electronic music, with performartive elements (Juhani was moving in the space with mechanic birds, I wrote a message to the event's Facebook page while performing, etc). After the 45-minute gig, some people stayed and chatter with each other & with us. There was coffee, filled croissants, fruit salad, cookies. Juhani gave out copies of one of his band's latest CD. I knew or recognized most of the people, since some of them had showed up last Sunday or in art events during the last week here in Tallinn. We talked about art, food, customs, culture, sports. This is the kind of stuff that I do, with all its features, side effects, rumours, and so forth.
Not being a full-time artist, but performing for my (non-artist, if you want) friends online (by posting stuff like music, text, videos etc), or at house parties...how would that differ from what I do now, I dunno yet. Of course I couldn't go to residencies or spend days doing whatever I feel like doing. Most of the art world opportunities like residencies are accessible only for people who seem like they're full-time artists. Naturally, there a some rare exceptions, and additionally, I could just make it seem so, like I'd be a "real" artist, in the applications.
Anyway, this hasn't been that realistic of a comment. I'm not sure if I'm painting the full picture for you here, dear reader (or future self).
a: what do you want
b: do I need to have wants?
a: I have them
b: like how, right now, you wanna know abt my needs?
a: i'm a blue-eyed man in his late 30's looking at you
b: why would you say that?
a: by giving you a surface to the project your, -I mean I wanted to give you a surface to project your thoughts on
b: so you think I'd be dead set on wanting something because there's a white man looking like me standing in front of me?
b: Ok well actually I don't want to be in my late 30's I'm really scared of the tought, even
a: so you want to be 32 forever?
b: what would change then if i'd want that, i mean it's an unrealistic thing to want, completely pointless, daydreaming
a: i will beat it out of you
a: yeah i will beat a real, true, concrete, understandable, fully realistic want out of you
b: really is that what you want?
b: i'm at your mercy here, you came in and wanted to know about my wants or a want, you wanted me to, i dunno, name the reason for my existence
a: see, you're b, you didn't exist before I tagged along -i mean didn't tag along, i came here, made you
b: no you made me visible which is different
b: to be more precise, you activated me
a: yes i want you to be as precise as possible, please