Thursday, January 20, 2011

Online Arts Reporting as Performance Art? | Open Thread

There are some fabulous, well-established examples of arts-based news/reporting that I consider a form of performance or art itself. Examples include Loren Munk/James Kalm, Bad at Sports, and our own Joy Garnett's Newsgrist. What differentiates such efforts from strict journalism are the concepts behind their approaches, and the fact that they're being created by artists.

Recently, though, we've been introduced to two other chroniclers of the fine art world whose work is unquestionably performance in nature. First is Cognac Wellerlane working with Long Island Exchange. Here's a video she recently created of an interview/performance at our last opening:



I have to confess, that I was so mesmerized by Cognac's eyelashes that it was difficult to focus on the questions. Leslie later told me she too was captivated by Cognac's performance. Undoubtedly the performance added a splash of fun to the opening, but I'm still sorting through how to think about it as "art."

Already well-established in art circles, but raising the standards of his reporting to what is approaching an art form in itself through both its accumulation and increasing wittiness, is The Two Percent's David Behringer. In addition to his current Top Five video, which also kindly features Leslie Thornton's exhibition...




his videos on how to navigate his site and the scene (second and third video on this page) are gems of production and enthusiasm. As much energy and charm as David puts into these videos, I have to suspect the effort influences his practice as a painter, or at least as an art entrepreneur. He does streams video of his studio via his blog, and because his gallery guide is so useful, at the very least gallery-hoppers using the site will be tempted to view the latest work on his easel.

One of the things I always recommend when people ask me how to get more traffic for the blogs devoted to promoting their artwork or gallery is to be generous (in fact I mention that in this interview with art curator/writer/historian Jane Harris who has just launched a fabulous new blog called Janestown). Give the readers something that keeps them coming back, preferably something they're surprised you're not charging them for.

Consider this an open thread on online arts reporting as performance, or at least as a gift that hopefully gives in return.

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12 Comments:

OpenID thepurposeofart said...

Socially engaged art delivered through social media appears to be a realization of the democratic Avant-Garde which Beuys strove for. Anyone who doesn't consider this type of activity as art needs to deepen their aesthetic understanding and consider what the function and goal of art actually is. Rather than art for art's sake, I think the new paradigm is art for humanity's sake.

In terms of relevanve to the times, I can't think of any artist who is more vital than Ryan Trecartin for the manner in which he has utilized social media platforms to deliver undeniable works of performance video art.

As an extension of this, you yourself are engaging in this blurred boundary of art by so generously offering up your site as a venue for social engagement and exchange.

-Dennis Helsel

1/20/2011 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger J. Wesley Brown said...

Can you explain more, Ed? So does Dana Carvey's acting as Garth on SNL qualify as a performance piece too? Acting, yes. Performance piece? I'm not so sure.

1/20/2011 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Saskia said...

Well, We're all hybrids of some sort.

And all the better for it.

I'm curious what the makers of those performance-y things you cited would say about them in terms of being art? I have seen interviews with the BAS folks & they seem to see a separation between that and their other activities as artists, but better to hear if from them, I say.

Art has always been about more than what happens in the studio. The question for me is, with more of us taking on more and concurrent roles in the artworld & sometimes wonderfully blending categories, is it still useful to maintain a separation or not between what we call art, and what has previously been thought of as art support activities such as newsmaking, social media, art writing, curating--
On the other side of that question, how many curators these days talk about what they do as if they are studio artists, and how may of my artist friends resent that? (answer: a lot)

1/20/2011 05:10:00 PM  
OpenID thepurposeofart said...

This question of the nature and function of art has been debated since the times of Plato and likely before; but it is all really beside the point once you realize that there is no ultimate authority in this matter. Everything regarding art is socially and culturally mediated and ultimately for the life of art to be valid; every attitude has to be challenged and questioned even as it is valued and appreciated.

“Everything is art. Everything is politics. You can call it art or non-art, I don’t give a damn”
- Ai Weiwei

1/20/2011 06:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Re. being generous, I've found that writing about art resources and galleries in the places I live (SE Asia and Sydney) has helped me forge new connections locally - and beyond, for other creatives who weren't aware of them.

And the added traffic is a bonus.

1/20/2011 08:01:00 PM  
Anonymous JBraun said...

First I love Leslie Thornton's handling of the interview. At moments when Ms. Wellerlane begins to over-presume a point, Ms. Thornton is able to take it back gently to where she wants to go. And without notes, she was thoughtful and managed not to ramble. Beautifully done.

Second, I like Saskia's question above..."how many curators these days talk about what they do as if they are studio artists..."...which highlights the "studio". I'm very romantic about the solitary environment of the studio, like private laboratories. Though I know they really can (and do) include all the realms of social media, ETC., I still tend to see blogs, reportage, reviews, as outside the "art-making" realm. If not, it's a slippery a slope from there to "everything is art/everyone's an artist"...which is just too easy and boring. My feeling is that some of these endeavors need to be seen over time, to see if they become exploratory or are just expository.

1/21/2011 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Saskia said...

Hopefully this isn't getting too off topic, but it's offered by way of analogy to the subject at hand.

The other day I saw a link to a note that Jerry Salz wrote on facebook about art vs. craft. He declared that there was no difference at all between the two. Other than the fact that he seems to be about 15 or 20 years late in weighing in on that discussion, maybe 30 if you are talking about ceramics, I had to think of an article I read in a Fiberarts magazine a few years ago. The article was lamenting the fact that now that fiber arts have been declared art, we were in danger of losing touch with a very rich tradition of craft.
I thought that was a good point. And I wonder if by declaring 'everything is art,' are we still giving space to the other traditions that these things arise from, or are we instead consuming them?

1/21/2011 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous JBraun said...

Saskia: good point... "we were in danger of losing touch with a very rich tradition of craft." We don't want to fold craft into art to prove how inclusive we are! There are very special and essential differences that often are only completely understood when one is doing them. I perceive the arguments to make them all the same as actually a bit condescending ...

1/22/2011 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you saying art blogs are art? I'm sorry but Paddy Johnson writes trivial bumblings and is nominated for a big G and pampered by the Warhol Foundation!!! What is she? A failed artist who is critical of artists who actually made the news.

Then you have writers like Tyler Green who offer more than trivial ranting but never get recognition. Our culture is so dumbed down that a single snarky paragraph is seen as having more value than an essay.

1/25/2011 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paddy Johnson has personality thogh. Green is as boring as the colour green.

1/26/2011 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous zipthwung said...

I was just watching some young folks in Chicago on usstream.tv - a critic, an artis and the host, along with the host's cat. They were discussing the necessity of branding yourself, that there was no shame in wanting to make money as artists, and lamenting the fact that there was no job description or money in MFA art.

Now you can say, hey, that's art, but I think most people would go with the intent, which was to discuss these topics, and not to make a Ryan Trecartin style visual orgy.

I take issue with Ryan Trecartin as good art, but lets keep it positive! Boring is art - as shown by bruce nauman's experiments with video - but boring interviews are not art, even when artfully shot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fh0OyxRdHfE

but a performance artist is always art

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA4aBvnaTpo

so we might ask, which artists consider themselves to be performative in life. Many artists are shy retiring or antisocial - they detest the artifice of social performance. I don;t blame them. At the same time, everyone should try it in a safe controlled environment, just like an astronaut in space. Every day should not be halloween though, because then people would get fat.

Actually, ART is semantic bullshit, and the sooner society realizes the power to restructure the hive at will, the better. You will be assimilated.

8/20/2011 08:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

off the top, some of my favorites are Gorgon (artnet/Coagula) Tony Fitzpatrick (blog/artnet) John Kilduff, who manicly multitasks (don;t we all!) and anyone who injects themselves into the reportage, a la the new journalism typified by Joan Didion, or her artworld fan, Jerry Saltz. Feel free to expand on this.

Paddy Johnson is (justly!) criticized for following the money and fashion-fashion (lady gaga ad nauseum) rather than scooping hot new stuff out of Bushwick or wherever.

Tyler is a pedantic cop, hardly the kind of person you would want rail lines with at an artworld party, but would love to see him shake up the business model of MFA factories, who seem more concerned with capital improvements and commercial art than CULTURE.

I did notice some sort of rumbling, as I held my ear to the tracks, about the need for more articulate independent ARTIST voices in the art world, samizdat ones, unfettered by the conventions that blogs such as Winkleman Tyler, BAS, AFC and others adhere to. Must everything be clear? As Andy.

8/20/2011 09:08:00 AM  

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