Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Art funding yarn

Have things changed in 22 years?

I recently re-read my final honours thesis on arts funding, and was surprised to see that it wasn't half bad.

Friday, June 30, 2017

To err is human...?

American economist James Buchanan won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics. Date 9 September 2010 Source http://www.flickr.com/photos/atlasnetwork/5008596095/ Author Atlas Network Official website
James McGill Buchanan (1919 – 2013)

"American economist known for his work on public choice theory (included in his most famous work The Calculus of Consent), for which he received the Nobel Memorial Prize in 1986.

Buchanan's work initiated research on how politicians' and bureaucrats' self-interest, utility maximisation and other non-wealth maximising considerations affect their decision making."

source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_M._Buchanan

Monday, June 5, 2017

Did Art create Religion?

Did Art create Religion?

The logistics of the ritual dismantling the sculpture  have been preoccupied me when waking on many mornings over the last 5 months.

Of course the jigsaw pieces will come at the last moment.

Well, my thinking is becoming clearer, with just 4 days until the first of the preview days.  My excuse is that I have been preoccupied with how to make it, making it, how to ship it, shipping it, and assembling it (which is going well, thanks for asking).

I know what I'm going to do: dismantle, hand out to the auidence, then fill the flutes.  Just like I have in the past, just on a huge scale 10 times larger than the Dublin Biennale.  But in what way, and how will we handle a huge crowd?  Particularly as the curatorial team are concerned that the crowd will just become a mob and pull down the sculpture.

Should I make a speech at the start, or just quietly start doing it?

In order to create a social ritual, I need to know the social and physical context that I am assembling and presenting the work.  When I discuss social, I don't just include the viewing public, as the audience.  I mean my peers and the people who help me assemble and present the work.

These are what I'm going to call the "frame makers"; curatorial and marketing staff.  The curators are important as gate keepers, in that they have selected myself and the other couple of hundred artists exhibiting from thousands of other available artists.  They "write the program" for the preview and Opening evenings visual entertainment.  Then there is the marketeers, who decide who and how many they would like to invite.  With the small size of the rooms and building here in Venice, and the potentially huge audience (yesterday I counted 100 people walked past the Palazzo Bembo in less than 2 minutes, so imagine this x 8 hours, x 7 days, x 6 months), the GAA Foundation staff estimates of 300,000 visitors over all their venues, is not unreasonable.

So, who to target for the preview and Opening?  Now I look at ideas of organisations, as opposed individuals.  The principal objective is for the organisation to survive, to further it's objectives, to provide secure employment for staff so that they concentrate on making this happen.  The objective has to be bigger than one individual, something we can all believe in and want to happen.

This is were I degress, and unpack what I was thinking was I woke up this morning.  When we moved from a hunter/gather to a farming society, we created surpluses to feed, shelter and cloth ourself.  This also created a surplus of time, which we filled up with religious and recreational activities. We socialised and interacted in larger and larger groups.  (In these days, it's now called the internet and social media.)  To reduced friction and conflict, some sort of shared values had to be developed that  guided individual and group interaction and action.  Consideration of others, empathy, generosity to one's group members, and to others, became the core rules.  A belief in a higher purpose, gods, god, an ideal society (heaven) became a unifying belief.  These seem to be remarkable consistent across different societies and times.

These briefs may have motivated people to build Newgrange over 5200 years ago.  This was about 500 years before Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, which also appeared to be, according to more recent thinking, voluntary built over many year.

Estimates for Maeshowe is one of the largest tombs in Orkney, Scotland, range from  39,000 man-hours to 100,000 hours to create it.



A recording of their debates would be useful now!

Aside: I estimate that I and my helpers spent about 1,900 hours making, packing and assembling this sculpture.  

So in this context my concern was nothing compared what they went through.  But it does give me an appreciation of the social complexity that may be created from prolonged collaborative activity.  In some way, societies do not create these large works, rather, the creation of these large works actually would have created society, and our beliefs.

And does this give insight into the art making process?  I think so, in that by creating anything physically, it grounds the discussions, and makes transparent, at least to the participants, their values and beliefs. 

It may actually create communal beliefs, even religious beliefs.

Upcoming America and Europe workshops: 2018

Upcoming workshops: 2018
2016 Workshop participant

Just a quick note that I may be running a series of paper clay workshops in the US in 2018.

A few weeks ago I begun email discussions with a couple of places which have expressed interest in this.  If you are in the US, Canada, or even south America, do get in touch with me asap, as it is quickly falling into place.

Similarly, a couple of weeks ago I begun discussions with a Italy based pottery supply firm regarding a workshop there, when I have to  return to Europe in August 2017.

If you are interested, please quickly check the list below.

Then use the link on that webpage to contact me, so I can be mindful of your initial interest, in my discussions with possible workshop hosts.

See my website for a list of past, present and possible workshops.  That list is always up to date i.e. confirmed workshop, unconfirmed works at http://www.grahamhay.com.au/workshops.html 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What is the Venice Art Biennale?

Rialto Bridge, Venice.   Photo: Graham Hay 2010

You have a choice today:

A fun, information packed 5 minute video


the politics:

​The Australia Council describes The Art Biennale as "the world’s oldest and most prestigious biennale of international contemporary art" 
                                   http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/strategies-and-frameworks/venice-biennale/ @29/11/16

The organising body, the Venice Biennale, describes it as:

 "Since 1998 ... the Art Biennale ... rest instead on three pillars:

  · The exhibitions by National Pavilions, each with its own curator and project 

  · The International Exhibition by the Biennale curator, chosen specifically for this task

  · Collateral Events, approved by the Biennale curator"                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                www.labiennale.org/en/biennale/organization/ @29/11/16

But this is only a formal, self-defining, and limited description of the whole Biennale event:
The National Pavilions are dominated by national PR themes and the use of "Art Gladiators" from each country in the global one-upmanship or attempt to shape   international perceptions.  These agendas may drown out the artist's voice by over-framing the artwork.

  List of 2017 artists

The International Exhibition, is the invited Curator's  "message to, or survey of the art world".  Christine Macel, Chief Curator at the Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou in Paris has this task in 2017.  A potent mix of global politics, personalities, and the balance of conservative and radical forces, in a form nonthreatening to Italian politicians and organisations funding the whole project.

The Collateral Events are global and Italian organisations, individuals and government funded exhibitions which apply to the invited Curator, to be included in the formal program.

Given it may take years to create an exhibition and resource it, and approval is announced only a month before the Biennale opens, this is an arbitrary honour.  Some exhibitions are regular on every two years during the Biennale period, but  randomly are in, or out of, the Collateral Event list. 

Entry to the formal program is used by the formal Biennale organisation to attempt to control independent organisations and artists who threaten to upstage or drown it out. There is also a financial aspect to approval:  rumour has it that the Biennale organisation became concerned with the roughly 50,000 people who went only to the free Collateral Events, and so deprived it of $2,250,000 entry fees (based upon 30 eur/Aus$A45 48 hr pass).  So it has been steadily reducing the number of Collateral Events.  

Despite this, many non-Collateral Events are flourishing.  They can present artwork and themes not constrained or "over-framed" by nationalistic stories, or dominating art institutions in Italy, or other countries.  This is the story you are unlikely to read about or hear from the mass media or in 140 character tweets.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What the hell are you trying to do?

While checking for bad links on my website I came across something I had written a few years ago, which sums up perfectly my intentions for the "Critical Mass" sculpture to be exhibited in Venice shortly.

"Moreover, unlike many artists who work alone in their studios, my studio practise is a very social experience. I share an open plan studio with 4 other artists and over 60 students. 

Being in an inner city park, we see hundreds of people relaxing, socialising and drinking outside, as well receive a steady stream of often unannounced visitors. 

Both consciously and unconsciously, all these things feed into my thinking and making.  

As artists, we sometimes forget that our sole role is to gift others unique personal and collective experiences. There is a tremendous feeling of liberation when we live solely to create such experiences, rather than to purely make objects (or commodities). 

Visual artists and crafts people sometimes become confused, obsessing narrowly on the image or object, yet it is the quality of the whole experience that distinguishes a good or bad artwork. 

With the advancement of mass production and now 3D print technology, I believe a reminder of our primary role is timely. 

The orthodox art events present singular images and objects for individuals to experience. 

The market encourages individuals to purchase artworks for private enjoyment or to become symbols of their personal taste, wealth or social location. 

However it is the collective experience of art which offer a heightened transcendent experience, diminishing feelings of alienation, by recreating timeless social rituals and social memories of belonging."

source: Graham Hay and Dr Neil Carlin (School of Archaeology, University College Dublin), Translating ceramics: Neolithic to Digital, to Contemporary Social Object, Ceramics Ireland, 2015, 34, p44-46 Copy of whole article online here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Black List

In the past, the personal taste of a very small homogeneous pool of senior Hollywood film company directors directly controlled which scripts were made into films.

"There was no efficient mechanism by which people with talent could even make the industry aware of their talent..." source: 4 Mar 2017, 7:41 the greatest films never made. Alex Wagner AFR p30-32

Change came when in 2005 when "Franklin Leonard surveyed almost 100 film industry development executives about their favorite scripts from that year that had not been made as feature films. This list of scripts became the first ever Annual Black List. Since then, the voter pool has grown to about 500 film executives, 60% of whom typically respond. The Annual List has served to help spotlight scripts which would go on to earn over $26 billion in worldwide box office and to receive 256 Academy Awards nominations and 48 wins, including Best Pictures SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE KING'S SPEECH, ARGO and SPOTLIGHT, and ten of the last fourteen screenwriting Oscars."  
source: https://blcklst.com/about/ 4/3/17

In the visual arts there are similar bottlenecks:  On an international level every national government tries to control how it is represented, and so perceived, by which of its artists are presented, and the way they are framed by media and publications.  One of the most contentious issues in any country, including Australia, is their past and present treatment of their indigenous people.  In Australia, the federal government's Australia Council has this challenging task.   No doubt Tracey Moffat's participation will inflame debate for this reason, and she appears to be trying to sidestep this:  The ABC Radio National, another federal government instrument, appear to be working both and against the Australia Council in a recent broadcast.  Good luck with that.

My concern is more parochial, addressing a problem that can not really be address by policy or job description.  I have seen it in industry and in the arts:   the human nature to trust more those we see and interaction with more frequently and face to face.  The Western Australian community just do not frequent enough direct social and offical contact in real time and place, to influence the informal and fluid decision making processes that shape Australian's national cultural policy. For an insight into this process read more...

Any exceptions, only prove the rule.


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