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Friday, 30 September 2011

Opportunities - bought or earned?

I've just had an email from a gallery in New York titled 'Gallery Representation'. Wow great!! Well, no it isn't actually....there is an annual charge of $3450 a year. It's got me thinking about opportunities which are not as they seem. Don't get me wrong - I appreciate that paying $3450 for a New York group show with all the provided publicity and contacts  may compare favourably with say hiring a gallery space in London - provided it is well done it may lead to all sorts of further opportunities. However, it seems to me that if a gallery is going to 'represent' you - they should do so because they think it is a worthwhile investment - and expect to be able to sell your work to recoup up front expenses (because they have faith in their selection, publicity skills and client base) and not charge you for the privilege. What this gallery is actually offering is the hire of their space and access to their publicity department and mailing list. It is actually group shows - so probably more comparable to an Art Fair? (To be fair this particular gallery did describe it as 'promotional services' in the body of the email which was much more accurate).
This leads me to my other bugbear - 'residencies' which charge for participation - in effect 'a holiday with a studio'. (Maybe that's a bit harsh - lets call it a 'working holiday with a studio'). I'm not talking about for example residencies which provide a studio and/ or accommodation but the artist is expected to cover travel, living or other expenses, I'm talking about opportunities where as long as you have the money you can pay to go and the venue contributes absolutely nothing.
I think my problem with both of the above is the lack of transparency - we all know that some artists have the luxury of an independent income/ source of support which enables them to be able to produce work and to undertake a great many opportunities  without having the restrictions of a  'day' job and the worries of paying the bills. They can also, if they want to, buy a few lines on the C.V. or hire an alternative studio for a while. If it is made clear that the 'representation', exhibition or 'residency' has been paid for then I have no problem - it's when something bought is presented as something earned that I get really annoyed.....

3 comments:

  1. do you mean that it should be made clear to those viewing and/or buying the art that it is on show in a bought space or a space that has been thru a selective process and thereby could be perceived as earned ? sometimes its the money changing hands which actually sullies the art me thinks - says one who has never ever sold any art in her life. i think i ought to make that my new years resolution ! what do ya say.

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  2. To be honest - my initial remarks are from my own perspective as an artist - although I think transparency for all is a good thing. No problem with people selling work. I just want to know exactly what is being offered up front. If it's a purely commercial venture, say so. If anyone can do it as long as they can pay then it does raise questions about quality & value - but I think that's something for a future rant :)

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