Patricia by Patricia

Patricia by Patricia
Patricia by Patricia

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

State of the Arts 2010 -The Future of Art Publications

I believe that Art is the beginning of change. There are always other ways of seeing, thinking, acting, being. There is more than one reality and of course, more than one choice. So I set out to ask my art writing colleagues Seth Combs contributing to San Diego CityBeat, Keli Dailey stirring things up at SignOnSanDiego, Kevin Freitas posting on Art As Authority (read his entire article on this subject) resident art critic Robert Pincus writing for Union Tribune about the future of art publications and what they see on the horizon of this industry.

Do people read about art in depth any more?

It seems like we are all being bombarded by words on the internet. We assume that the attention span of the young is limited to 300 words at a time so fundamental to this discussion are the reading habits of the future.

Keli Dailey reminds us that you have “…. to see a lot of good art to recognize the limitations of not-so-good art, and this swallowing and absorption of the good vitamins makes your eyes stronger.”

Robert Pincus has faith that “…people want to read good writing about art. My evidence for the continuing viability of informed and passionate art criticism is anecdotal.” as he gets comments sent to him regularly about his column.

“The writing needs to be succinct with less art jargon, treating the reader with respect and realizing that the audience has a multitude of choices…” is Seth Combs take on this question.

Kevin Freitas takes a contrasting view, “As we become increasingly “plugged in” our capacity to reflect and ponder upon the information received decreases – including how art is viewed and understood.” He thinks that the coffee table book may be replaced by the Kindle, but “artist blogs and pod casts will not be the knock-out punch to the jaw of movable type.”

The overriding sentiment here seems to be as Pincus states “…..nothing can replace the value of keen insights about art, no matter how they are delivered.”

Are websites the future of publications or do they also have to organize events, curate show, etc?

As the coordinator of a website directory that has morphed into a media publication with calendar, and events promotions, I wondered how traditional publications are using their websites and how some journal websites are surviving.

Combs states that "local publications that are exclusively art oriented have more problems than nationals art periodicals.” CityBeat has a wider remit and covers news, food, nightlife, etc. But size of the editorials at CityBeat are not dependant on advertising generated by the arts as the “publisher recognize that culture adds value to the publication.” Of course, three people with an online blog can survive, but would they be able to progress and reach full potential? Small local online publication, like Latent Print and Sezio are screening movies, supporting poetry readings, combining music with art displays.

Dailey recommends Arts Journal as one of the few profit-turning and highly trafficked online arts publications. I personally get my art daily from Art Daily right now.

Pincus believes “…that print publications will survive, with online dimensions continuing to expand their scope into a range of media. But new publications may opt not to appear in print at all. More importantly, though, it's always the quality of the coverage that will matter most. The liveliness and lucidity of the writing will set one daily, weekly, magazine and site apart from another. For audio or video reporting, it is the perceptiveness of an interview or the excellence of the footage that is vital”

Freitas applauds the rise of self published volumes, which “give artists the freedom and luxury to get the word out at a minimal cost.” He recommends LA based Coagula Art Journal , now in its 17 th year.

e-Flux which began in 1999 as an exhibition in a hotel has become “state of the art” officially with its recognition of Anton Vidokle/e-flux, Julieta Aranda & Brian Kuan Wood on the top most powerful people list of Art Review Magazine. (See the whole list in our revised Smart Collector article). e-Flux can be described as a collective, a school, an archive, an advocacy source, a journal, a gallery in Manhattan and a gathering place for projects to incubate and mature. e-Flux even auctions and markets artwork.

Frieze is a magazine published 8 times a year, a very successful art fair held in London in October and a non-profit foundation responsible for the curated program at the fair, including artist commissions, talks, films, music and education. The Foundation is funded by the European Commission and Arts Council England. Perhaps our own Beyond the Borders International Art FairSDVAN/SD Art Prize is already the non-profit organization associated with this fair. will develop into a publication.

Are there still movements and if not how do we define contemporary arts?

Everywhere I look combined, collaged, collaborated and bigger than life art is prevalent. How do you get a handle on that all encompassing media assault? And how can we use geography to define art where the World Wide Web makes us all one?

Robert Pincus says he has, “…never felt it to be any less exciting to be a critic in a post-movement era. Art, whether collaborative or made in isolation, is always rooted in the strength of its vision and convictions. Art that grips us and surprises us will always appear.”

Keli Dailey believes there are movements. “ Lowbrow is a movement and there are many micro-movements, which might become major, but the very nature of contemporary art is to morph, and not be static. It overlaps and borrows and competes and revises and reassembles and destroys and sounds intellectually muscular when it tosses the word “postmodernism” around like an ‘ol pigskin.”

Seth Combs is hopeful that the new Space4Art Barrio Logan/ East Village art complex will provide a local geography for “…more interdisciplinary, interactivities and cross pollination of ideas.” He feels that North Park never reached that maturity before the rents went up and the artists moved on. Today’s artists must speak, write and publish in city centers, which are the main ingredient to making that soup from which great art emerges.

For Kevin Freitas, “The problem is everyone is talking and no one is listening or even commenting. And while artists might upload their work to the internet in an effort to circumvent dwindling exposure in traditional press sources, it is actually hurting them. The idea that art speaks to everyone has just gotten harder to hear over the din of a thousand invisible voices competing on the same computer platform. In the end, the only cure for the arts and its exposure is to keep a copy of the painting you’re standing in front of, firmly imprinted in your mind’s eye.”

However, e-Flux has just published a collection of blog threads which they see as the natural developing direction of visual art writing. Could it be that blog topics will emerge and self define categories of interest? Some of the chapter heading include: Politics of Installation (Boris Groys), Is a Museum a Factory? (Hito Steyerl), and Art in the Knowledge-Based Polis (Tom Holert).

My advice is to choose a variety of websites and writers to follow and remain loyal so as not to confuse yourself. If you get bored there are obviously plenty of choices so keep your eyes open and your finger on the search button. Finally, remember to keep those comments coming as this is one of your ways to actually affect the future and make sure that next year 400 more publications do not bite the dust.