Last fall, Open Space began hosting a series of real-time discussions at the museum, and this spring we’re going to do another round, in slightly different fashion, about which I’m very excited.
Starting Thursday, March 24, Open Space and the online journal Art Practical are co-hosting a three-part series of conversations, entitled “Shop Talk,” focused on survival strategies artists develop and adopt to gain recognition and financial viability. We’ll use Stephanie Syjuco’s collaborative project Shadowshop, currently on view as part of The More Things Change, as a jumping-off point to examine the ways artists attempt to re-structure market conditions to accommodate, support, or help further the social reach of the aesthetic and critical capacities of their work. We’ll also look at the ways a general public engages and responds to these efforts.
The first of the three conversations will begin with a series of short presentations contextualizing Shadowshop, from writer and curator Christian L. Frock, Shadowshop participating artist Amanda Hughen, and SFMOMA education and public programs coordinator Megan Brian. We’ll then open the floor in a town-hall style forum, hoping to elicit a broad spectrum of positions on the ways artists approach the “production, consumption, and dissemination of their work,” as well as how a public encounters artist projects that address or reflect larger social questions about economy and autonomy.
The second conversation, on April 14, will home in on the most prevailing concerns raised in the first. The third and final evening of the series, May 12, we envision as a brainstorming session, in which attendees will be encouraged to consider possible models for autonomy—or change—in tough economic times.
Patricia Maloney, AP’s editor-in-chief, and I share the belief that critical dialogue about artistic production can itself be productive. Art Practical is responsive and accumulative, contextualizing artistic activity as it happens, in effect shaping a portrait of one Bay Area arts community. Open Space, on the other hand, is a generative forum, one I like to hope operates as a commons within its institutional framework, inviting individuals to offer their own narratives about art, and engage a shared investment around ideas, activities, and social conditions.
Together, Patricia and I are framing this suite of conversations as both responsive and generative, in a way we hope will allow participants and audience to guide the direction it takes. In addition to the onsite discussions, “Shop Talk” will additionally unfold across both online platforms, in the form of blog posts here at Open Space and with feature articles at Art Practical, tracking, responding to, and suggesting alternative perspectives to those raised in the three discussions.
This Thursday, March 10, look for a post from Renny Pritikin, at Open Space, that will help us frame some questions for discussion. On the same day, Christian L. Frock’s Art Practical feature article will focus on cultivating models of creative autonomy that work within the existing limitations of the predominant system, while Zachary Royer Scholz offers a broad overview of factors that have shaped the Bay Area’s approach to cultural production.
We’ve also invited artist Helena Keefe, poet Erika Staiti, poet and critic Jasper Bernes, and curator and writer Clark Buckner to act as respondents the first two evenings, and their reflections will appear here between programs.
More details are here. Please join us! All evenings are free with museum admission, and start at 7pm in the Koret Vistor Education Center.
Finally, in the spirit of raising further questions, we thought to offer a brief reading list, for those who might want to delve a little deeper before 3/24. Further suggestions welcome and appreciated.
- Hakim Bey, T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone: Poetic Terrorism
- Brandon Brown’s Bohemia of Finances series.
- Holland Cotter, “The Boom Is Over. Long Live the Art!” New York Times, February 12, 2009
- The Culture, Creativity, and Communities (CCC) Program at the Urban Institute, “Investing in Creativity: Support Structure for U.S. Artists,” 2003
- Thom Donovan, “Art Strike Anyone”?
- The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009).
- Paul Lafargue, “The Right to be Lazy,” 1883
- Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), “Artists and the Recession,” May 2010,
- Chantal Mouffe “Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces,” in Art and Research, Volume 1, Number 2, Summer 2007
- National Governors’s Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices; “Arts and the Economy: Using Arts and Culture to Stimulate State Economic Development,” 2007
- Bob Projansky and Seth Siegelaub, The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement, 1971, included in the Documenta 5 catalogue
For additional resources, please see Stephanie Syjuco’s reading list.