On or about February 20, 2010, we transformed Winkleman Gallery into a think tank for approximately one month, complete with blackboards, work tables, beer*, coffee-makers* and a mini-fridge*. We solicited your active participation in this project if you were an artist, critic, art dealer, collector, academic, art-lover, art-hater, or member of the general public.
We needed your help to find answers to such questions as and we arrived at some possible answers:
*Is contemporary art a luxury commodity for the wealthy that limits the possibility of ownership, understanding, and access based on class, education and geography? If so, why exactly is that a problem?
Absolutely! It is and it’s still a problem!
*Why do people keep making art (or writing about it, or showing it, or caring about it) even when they don’t ever earn any money from it?
Because they love being involved and aren’t going to quit because they haven’t found commercial success.
*When/if artists do manage to earn some money from their work, why does it sometimes make them feel queasy to sell their art to wealthy collectors?
Because there are vast class differences and it’s ok to feel really uncomfortable because we aren’t the same.
*If New York is the Belly of the commercial Beast we despise, why are we paying so much to live here?
Because this is were the market is, for better or worse. You’ve got to pay to play.
*Why do we keep going to art exhibitions when we don’t like 90% of what we see?
Because we are both hopelessly optimistic and gluttons for punishment.
*How much of “hating the art world” is simple sour grapes and how much of it is because the art world really is gross?
We hold Pollyana grudges, true, but that doesn’t make Dan Colen a better artist.
He’s gross. Gagosian is gross for showing it.
*Why on earth would anyone pay more than, say, 200 bucks for a painting?
Because collectors love art and can afford it. The question remains, why would anyone pay thousands of dollars to maintain the 200 painting?
* Is it ‘selling out’ to go to the Bahamas with a collector or design his yacht? What if you’re kinda broke and this might be your only chance to go to the Bahamas?
Bill went to the Bahamas, it was his only shot, and he missed his patron entirely. ÂNot sure what that means, but hopefully there will be a second trip to finish a commission satirizing the entire experience. The only yacht involved will be one he is sailing on. Bill accepts this is a form of selling out. He’s been trying for years.
* What are some possible viable alternatives or modifications to the current commercial art market system? What’s wrong with Capitalism? Isn’t it great!?
W.A.G.E artists called for artists to simply ask the question to institutions “Do I get paid for working for you?” Ben Davis asked that we don’t call ourselves activist artists, but to be artists and activists, and we also learned that “art needs to make friends.”
We will be hosted a series of presentations, discussions and other art-like events. You had ideas and shared them with us.
THIS WASN’T A NOT A REGULAR OLD ART SHOW! You didn’t send us your art unless it featured relevant performance, could be written on a blackboard with chalk, or involved a lecture.
We didn’t do this without you. We didn’t have any answers but we wanted to facilitate the coming-together of wildly varying people, over beer. It was totally possible. You let us be the President Obama to your Boston policeman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. We learned how fucking difficult that was.
If you have any reflections in the form of informal essays, photographs, videos, or other documentation, please email us at email@example.com.
Thanks for coming forward!
J & B
*It was all barely approved by our host and subjected to possible financial, safety and/or legal issue discussions. In the end, we got what we needed, but we are still looking to better understand the paradoxes we tried to untangle.