Draft Mission Statement (or some such thing)


#class will turn Edward Winkleman Gallery into a ‘think tank’, where we will work with guest artists, critics, academics, dealers, collectors and anyone else who would like to participate to examine the way art is made and seen in our culture and to identify and propose alternatives and/or reforms to the current market system. By ‘current market system’ we mean the commercial model and attendant commodification of art, but also the unquantifiable, intangible, unpaid aspects of participating in the art world. We will work to physically transform Winkleman Gallery from a showroom into a think tank, where discussions and events will take place from approximately Feb 20 – March 20, 2010.

These issues will be approached from three intersecting spheres of artistic practice: ‘Think Space’, ‘Work Space’, and ‘Market Space’. While thinking is also work, we make the distinction here to separate the labor the organizing artists, Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida, will perform individually from the collaborative and communal dialog that we will facilitate.

Among other things, we hope to reduce the amount of certainty that the audience feels when entering a gallery and encountering an art work. The outcome of this project is totally uncertain, and involves risk. We will process this uncertainty and risk artistically and respond as individual artists by making work at tables in the ‘Work Space’ and and displaying it in a small, marginalized ‘Market Space’ within the gallery. This will make explicit the conflict artists often feel between their belief in socialist or communal values and their isolated, individualistic artistic work and career.

Think Space

The gallery will be reconfigured from a display-space into a place for working, thinking, and hanging out. Several walls will be covered in chalkboard paint where artists and others may participate in defining and working out problems consecutively or communally. There will be chairs and tables available for visitors to use to sit and converse. We hope to improve upon and refine our current working definition that “art is a luxury commodity for the wealthy that limits the possibility of ownership, understanding, and access based on class, education and geography”. We will work in the gallery to continuously update, record, and modify the information that the public provides. Eventually, we hope to move from identification and definition into analysis to propose solutions.

We ourselves, along with other collaborators, will spend as much time in the gallery as possible. During some of this time, we will participate simply by talking, drinking, and working on the walls themselves as we would in a private studio. Members of the public will be welcome to join in on the dialog and make themselves comfortable.

We believe that this aspect of the project will implicitly challenge some of the expectations of the market including (1) that most art is produced in private by individual artists and (2) is presented as a finished product ready for consumption. We hope to make our thought process tangible.

The last goal of the Think Space will be promote a critical and academic dialog around the project and attendant developing ideas by hosting a series of informal events and discussions involving critics, bloggers, artists, dealers, collectors, academics, and the general public through a call-for-proposals. We would like to avoid the professionalism and authority of traditional panels by making the discussions less formal and encouraging people to speak with greater freedom and candor about the subjects by plying them with food and drink. We will have a full calendar of performances, discussions, and uncategorizable art-like events, all invested with the aim of enlarging and deepening the conversation about the intersection of art and the market.

Work Space

As the show progresses, the individual artists Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida plan to participate in the market by making art work inspired by the information, events and discussions generated in the space. At the work tables in the space, in public, we will create small works on paper based on our interpretation and documentation of the evolving project. This work will not be priced in the usual commercial manner, premised on ‘what the market will bear’ based on our past work and reputations. Instead, we plan to offer our work to the highest bidder with no reserve. We may offer suggested guidelines for appropriate prices, such as one day of the buyer’s income from his or her job, 0.1% of his or her net worth, etc. However, the buyers will be free to offer whatever price they see fit, and the artists will be obliged to sell the work at the highest offered price.

Market Space

There will be a clearly defined, physically marginalized Market Space within the gallery where these works can be displayed and marketed to those who would like to view or purchase them. Our transparent complicity in the market and the proximity of the think/market spaces to the work space will help steer the discussion back to the emotional conflict between ideals and reality.

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