Monday, October 06, 2008
Artists on the loose
Test with new materials: blueprint of Chinese-language newspapers on watercolor paper. Vendors do a double-take each time I buy a paper. "You can read Chinese?!" they ask.
Last weekend I stopped by the exciting, if laboriously-named, Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre. A brand-new artspace for artists and related organizations, it's located in Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon.
This is a pretty common tactic in cities around the world, where artists are employed as gentrifiers for a neighborhood by "bringing culture" to a place they might otherwise not frequent. (as though the place has no existing culture of its own) If this occurs naturally in the free-market system thanks to cheap rents on quasi-legal industrial spaces, artists have to leave the neighborhood once rents rise above their income levels, but in subsidized programs like this one, rents are affordable....until the HK government decides to take the building back. (It appears they plan to take back the historic artists spaces at Cattle Depot Artist Village, as they're no longer taking new tenants and many studios are now vacant.)
Artists of note at the new space were Ruby Woo's display of glass pastries and popsicles (unfortunately her site isn't working at the moment), John McArthur and his Spitting Gecko Studio, and Victor Tai Sheung Shing with his warm teak sculptures.
Traipsing through 9 levels of art gives you an array of examples as to how local artists display their work and make a living (a.k.a. market their work - but of course artists aren't supposed to talk about marketing too much, it reeks of selling out).
The successful late-summer sale by Damien Hirst of his work at Sotheby's has since sparked lots of talk about how artists are pursuing other options for marketing their work, outside the gallery system.
Some choose to make large quantities of stuff, and sell it on eBay. Others have gallery representation in a couple of cities, and sell independently elsewhere. Still others forego the gallery route completely, and build up contacts through their blogs and newsletters.
Hugh MacLeod draws on the backs of business cards, when he's not devising Web 2.0 marketing strategies for companies like Dell and Stormhoek wineries. Now he's making gigantic paintings that teem with energy, just like New York City - or maybe his brain. Read his thoughts on gallery-less marketing here.
Hazel Dooney is an Australian artist who has successfully used her website and blog to promote her work. Her thoughts on a brave new art world, leaving galleries in the dust.
And a long post on artists, galleries & the internet at MyArtSpace.com, if you've got the time for it.
Recently someone said to me, "Oh here in Hong Kong, as a westerner it's so easy to be a big fish in a small pond. In London or Sydney you'd be competing with everyone there."
What she didn't get was that I don't see this life I'm leading as a competition with anyone; other artists are my peers. And that, after having lived in a half-dozen countries, my viewpoint is not limited to the local by any means, unless I choose to focus on it. A professional artist in Kansas City or Kuwait is as worthy of my consideration as are the top sellers in New York or Beijing. I subscribe to three dozen art blogs, published in Europe, America, Asia & Australia. We inform one another and are part of the same worldwide market, regardless of geography.
Borders of states are now porous, thanks to the internet. You can attend a virtual opening in Berlin while living in Brooklyn, and chat with a curator in Chengdu. None of us are stuck simply where we are. How cool is that?!
Posted by Ebriel