I'm just back from Germany, where I spent almost four weeks, three of them teaching straight (meaning exactly one day off somewhere in between). Add to that the jet lag, and you might be able to imagine that that gelatinous mass inside my skull that I like to think of as my brain is in a state for which the term "disarray" might be apt. Or maybe I just have to get used for the nervous chatter that is the state of things on the internet again. Not sure.
Colin Pantall just wrote a piece about art and money and galleries and artists, and you might want to read it. I think somewhere, some painting sold for a lot of money. I don't know, I'm not following these things. Maybe it was an auction, or maybe one of those art fairs. I simply don't care about those things.
Yes, you read that right, I don't care what amounts rich people pay for art. They got the money, and they got to spend it on something, right? Imagine you're an oligarch, or some investment banker, and you got everything, well, almost anything anyway. You got the fastest car, and the most beautiful family, and you got power, you bought yourself some influence in whatever place your country calls its capital - then what? How can you possibly impress your friends? There's really only art left, because while there's always another politician for sale, there's only one copy of that painting.
Tyler Green complained that the New York Times reported Chris Marker's death on page B14, one day late, and some discussion ensued (on Twitter), which - inevitably - ended up talking about auctions as well, and Paddy Johnson noted that "A record breaking auction is going to be of interest to more people." Sign of the (New York) Times. (#teamtyler btw)
In Germany, I went to spend a few days in Frankfurt, where they have all the banks, literally in the form of skyscrapers. Frankfurt (the Main version, there's an Oder one which I've never seen) is the only German city that allows skyscrapers in a form you'd see in the US, say, and it's quite a marvelous city. You wouldn't know this from either just seeing the airport (it's a major hub) or talking to German people (most of which have no clue about how great Frankfurt is).
One of the things I saw was the DZ Bank Collection show room, or let's just call it gallery or maybe museum. There, they do all the things places like Pier 24 do. Granted, the place is a bit smaller, but at least it's right where the money is, and I mean that literally: it's right in the area of town where there's one bank headquarter next to another. That's refreshing in its honesty, isn't it? So you can go and look at exhibitions curated by someone, from some collection, and they got a nice space, and they got brochures and all. Next time you're in Frankfurt, go and see it.
Later in Berlin, I found a book entitled "Geld frisst Kunst, Kunst frisst Geld", which got me through its quote on the back. It says (my translation) "When two artists talk to each other, they talk about money. When two bankers talk to each other, they talk about art." I'm only 166 pages into the book, but so far it's quite amazing. It talks about money and art and society and politics, and how there are relationships between those. Talking about money and art simply leaves a lot out, so maybe, if we're interested in talking about money in photoland, we should also talk about society and politics (in ways that Colin in his piece alludes to).
Speaking of money and art, there also was a piece about whether photographers can bypass the art market's usual mechanisms (read: galleries). It's a good piece, and you might want to read it. My jetlagged jelly tells me, though, that it somehow evades the main issue, namely that most photographers really would like to have their cake and eat it. Nobody really seems to like galleries, at last until they have gallery representation. Isn't that interesting?
In the piece Stuart Waplington is quoted saying that he is motivated by the "frustration that more photography artists don’t get the recognition they deserve". I can totally get behind that idea (that's why I got my portfolio competition), but I'm wondering why we would ultimately tie that recognition to the things we profess to despise, namely the market and money (that's why when you win my competition, you only get an interview).
Don't get me wrong, if you want recognition in form of a solo exhibition somewhere, that's totally fine. But is that really the only form of recognition an artist should strive for? Is that what we're all in the game for, to get the recognition in the form of that, which we profess to hate, as long as we're not part of it? That would be a bit like really hating that night club the bouncers won't let us into - until that night where suddenly we're in, and man, isn't it awesome?