Wednesday, January 13, 2010

#class : Draft Mission Statement

As noted earlier, artists and sometimes-collaborators Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida are organizing a month-long event to take place in our gallery beginning about February 20 titled "#class". I write "about" because very little of this event is chiseled in stone at this point, by design. The artists are still soliciting proposals for how to form and run it. Dates and times will become more concrete (the goal is not chaos) as the event approaches, but for the moment, as a guiding set of principles, the artists have released the following draft Mission Statement:
#class will turn 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.

There is a thread on the event's blog, hashtagclass, in which artists and others have already begun contributing some very thoughtful ideas. Everyone is invited to add to the discussion.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely cool idea, this sounds fantastic!

---- ondine nyc

1/13/2010 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

You left out one space.

"The Battle Cage Space"

Where Conceptualists and Formalists can settle their argument once and for all in a 24/7 gauntlet match to the death through the duration of the event.

1/13/2010 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger #class said...

oh that's a really good idea, Joseph. Perhaps in the interest of avoiding lawsuits we could settle for an arm wrestling tournament? Or a brie-and-arugula-eating contest? If you want to present something, let us know!


1/13/2010 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry said...

Sounds interesting. But:

We plan to offer our work to the highest bidder with no reserve. . . , and the artists will be obliged to sell the work at the highest offered price.

But inevitably in case of competition among multiple buyers to acquire a particular work, this policy already skews the balance in favor of those with greater means, and thus appears to deepen rather than reverse the perception that “art is a luxury commodity for the [relatively] wealthy."

1/13/2010 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Kyle Lemstrom said...

Please consider recording/posting discussions in podcast form for those of us unable to attend!

1/13/2010 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

or a staring contest between "Mona Lisa" and "Object to Be Destroyed"

1/13/2010 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger #class said...

Larry, I have to say I think you're right and we will be continuing to tinker with our pricing process. I can think of a few cockamamie pricing schemes off the top of my head that would mix things up a bit more. But if you have any suggestions we'd be happy to hear them!


1/13/2010 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger William said...


There will be a number of novel ways of acquiring the work, and the auction process is only one, and it will be over at the end of the business day. So, there will a broader element of chance depending when you come to the gallery. Also, there will be a best offer scenario following the suggested pricing guidelines based on your income, ie class where you name your own price. The art dealer will determine whether or not they believe you. Perhaps there will be sales - clearance, half-price, coupons, IOU's, trades.

We will work to re-think a pricing policy that is based on the usual market indicators of value, but market forces will be present; fair or not. This is what can happen when selling becomes part of the subject of the art. Again, Jen and I have to negotiate all of our policies with Ed, so stay tuned for further details.

Please send us your thoughts at or post them on the blog.


1/13/2010 08:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry said...

Jen, William,

Would it help if I brought along my most recent 1040 or IRA statement? (Just joking.)

But you asked for some alternative pricing approaches. Well, one could be a means test, à la Higgins in My Fair Lady:

HIGGINS. How much do you propose to pay me for the lessons?

LIZA. Oh, I know what's right. A lady friend of mine gets French lessons for eighteenpence an hour from a real French gentleman. Well, you wouldn't have the face to ask me the same for teaching me my own language as you would for French; so I won't give more than a shilling. Take it or leave it.

HIGGINS You know, Pickering, if you consider a shilling, not as a simple shilling, but as a percentage of this girl's income, it works out as fully equivalent to sixty or seventy guineas from a millionaire.


HIGGINS. Figure it out. A millionaire has about 150 pounds a day. She earns about half-a-crown.

LIZA Who told you I only--

HIGGINS She offers me two-fifths of her day's income for a lesson. Two-fifths of a millionaire's income for a day would be somewhere about 60 pounds. It's handsome. By George, it's enormous! it's the biggest offer I ever had.

Another approach would be to emulate the wisdom of Solomon when the two harlots both claimed to be mother of the same baby. If you have two possible buyers, offer to tear the piece in half and see which one pleads with you to give the work to the other. That's your buyer.

I trust these two schemes are sufficiently cockamamie to be taken with the utmost gravity.

1/13/2010 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger William said...


A recent pay stub should suffice! Lol, but Jen and I will pour over these suggestions as we develop our pricing guidelines. I think a good art dealer should be able to tell how wealthy a potential collector is by the cut of their (pant) suit, the kind of shoes they are wearing, or if any scruffiness seems calculated (ie, look broke but smell really, really nice). Maybe we can just have Ed take a look for specks of paint and check people's hands for signs of labor to help determine the veracity of their offers.


1/14/2010 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

Hey hashspacepeople,

Your blog won't let me comment! "your OpenID credentials could not be verified"! WTF? How open is that?
Without signing up for LiveJournal, typepad, google, AIM, or some other surveillance system, it won't accept my comments. I have a website and typed that address in, and it said my URL contained "illegal letters". Now I'm afraid of the letter police because I already have outstanding warrants. Is this part of your project?

Before rethinking the art market structure, I'd suggest rethinking your blog's comment structure. Very non-inclusive.

1/14/2010 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

BTW, sorry to be such a complainer, but my comment was going to be that the white text on black ground makes it impossible to read that much text before headache/eye strain sets in. In the spirit of inclusiveness and ease of access, please consider switching to dark text on light ground.

1/14/2010 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

tough crowd

1/14/2010 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

Ed, you know I say these things with love. (Doesn't it say "tough love" up there?)




1/14/2010 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger #class said...

Oriane we will check on the blog comment thing, it shouldn't be that way. Unless you just have the web equivalent of a parking boot for all those outstanding internet warrants!

Check back on the hashtagclass blog, we'll try to make it right.


1/14/2010 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

Thanks, Jen.


1/14/2010 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry said...

William: "I think a good art dealer should be able to tell how wealthy a potential collector is by the cut of their (pant) suit, the kind of shoes they are wearing, or if any scruffiness seems calculated (ie, look broke but smell really, really nice). Maybe we can just have Ed take a look for specks of paint and check people's hands for signs of labor to help determine the veracity of their offers."

Hah! No wonder Ed was checking out my hands and shoes last time I visited the gallery.

1/15/2010 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Might I suggest department of historic studies? You'd be astounded at how many times this stuff has been tried in the past. Check out the Guerrilla Art Action Group (Art is guilty of the worst crime against human beings: silence...[1970]), or the Art Workers Collation. They've got copies of their manifestos in PS1s "1969" show, and that's not delving into the European movements like the Situationsist or Lettrists. Didn't work then ether, but could be fun as a new tweak on "situational aesthetics"?

1/15/2010 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Opps, Make that "relational aesthetics".

1/15/2010 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Wendy Cooper said...

Great plan. Would love to participate with much to say about art and the rest of the country (outside NY/LA scenes).

1/25/2010 12:33:00 PM  

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