Friday, October 18, 2013

Fair? Jealousy? Typical


One of the more irritating aspects of working in the visual arts in one particular divide I straddle.  My host institution (a fine art university) bases its curriculum on the professional exhibiting artist (and not the artist who sells work). I often feel that the language and practices of my colleagues in my academic/conceptual world betray a consideration of artists who sell as "second class."

There is that concept of "selling out," and there seems to be a distain for the market as opposed to the curator and/or critic. Perhaps I have a chip, or something larger, on my shoulder because I had to sell to pay my bills. In fact, I could not afford to work on anything that was unlikely to sell and doing so kept me from having to do any kind of work extraneous to my creative practice.

And then there is that capacity for our kind to turn viciously on success — to tear down those who earn considerable financial reward. All these things had me shaking my head over this article (on The Daily Beast) about a backlash against Bansky.
“Plenty of artists are very envious of his success as a commercial artist because at the end of the day that’s what he’s become: he’s a brand, he’s a corporation, he’s a commodity,” says music and television producer Sacha Jenkins. Jenkins is currently curating a history of graffiti called Write of Passage in New York City and says the “writing” community is unhappy with Banksy being portrayed as one of them, calling his popular depiction as a graffiti artist a misrepresentation of the art form and culture, which is strictly letters. Graffiti writers also “resent that he has the ability to do whatever he wants -- his finances afford him the ability to skip around the world and generate his art and if he gets caught he’s just going to get a slap on the wrist.”

Some are frustrated that an Englishman has waltzed into New York, considered by many the birthplace of graffiti, to wild fanfare, while true graffiti artists struggle to get by. But their main gripe is the stencil-welding spray painter is not actually part of the graffiti world. Some in the community have taken to tagging over his work, sometimes out of anger and jealousy.

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