Weekend Links: Reality Check

Even though I spent much of this week trying to keep my head down in the studio and focus back on the not-so-simple practice of just making art, my reading time threw me back again and again into the sobering reality of the structures that govern the well-nigh ungovernable currents of contemporary art. From biennales to budget cuts, curators to copyrights, there are structural devils in the world that are better known than not.

The devil I’d really rather not know at all (Source: Peter Dobey at Hyperallergic.com)

The Harper Resistance Front: Most of Canada’s cultural commentators – admittedly, myself included – have fallen into sullen silence since Harper won his majority government last month, but Prairie Artsters’ blogger Amy Fung is not one of them. The realities she speaks to in her stirring post are nothing we didn’t already know about Harper and his disdain for the arts, but it serves as a powerful reminder of what we’ll be dealing with over the next four years.

The copyrights of origami: Richard Prince’s copyright infringement woes dominated the arts blogosphere in recent weeks, but equally fascinating is the lawsuit being filed against painter Sarah Morris by a number of origami artists whose original crease patterns were appropriated (read: slavishly copied) as the basis of her Origami series. Early reports on the case make the extent of Morris’ copying painfully obvious, but this Hyperallergic interview with Robert J. Lang goes layers deeper in explaining the creative and technical labour that goes into contemporary origami production and crease patterns as original works of art.

The curatorial context: Sally McKay kicks off a two-part series at Art Fag City exploring the sometimes-problematic framing of artists within external curatorial frameworks. Emerging Toronto-based curator Lisa Myers (whose showing of Meryl McMaster was discussed here in January) would never be accused of abusing curatorial power, her interview with McKay is an excellent primer on building respectful artist-curator collaborations.

Artist Statement Redux: This isn’t the first time I’ve recommended Joanne Mattera’s incomparably useful Marketing Monday posts and their unreservedly generous professional advice to artists, but this week’s post on the artist statement as marketing tool presents a strong case for rethinking the often snore-worthy format.

What’s the point of the Venice Biennale?: I’ve barely been able to take three steps through my RSS feeds without tripping over coverage of the Venice Biennale, giving me plenty enough reportage to stir up a confusing mix of envy and vague repulsion at the spectacle. Of all those reporting from Venice, AFC’s Paddy Johnson comes closest to voicing my doubts of whether a trip to Venice is of any benefit to artists at all. It’s the same issue that plagues art fairs but blown up to excess proportions best exemplified by this ill-conceived photo essay in which the imploring political views of late Egyptian artist Ahmed Basiouny (who died in Tahrir Square during the recent revolution) are followed immediately by a swathe of wealthy collectors swanning about at exclusive parties and generally looking nauseatingly self-absorbed. Ick.

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