via New City:
Ben Schaafsma, an independent curator and art activist, passed away on Saturday, October 25. He was 26 years old.
Schaafsma was an exceptionally ambitious and motivated organizer of the arts community, establishing non-profit art institutions at almost every turn. Perhaps his best-known and longest-running effort was the Institute for Community Understanding Between Art and The Everyday (InCUBATE), founded with Abigail Satinsky and Roman Petruniak. The Logan Square storefront houses an artist residency and a grant program, among many other activities, that, at their core, serve to support artistic endeavors.
Schaafsma often sought to solve funding issues using creative and non-traditional means. InCUBATEâ€™s Sunday Soup program awarded a monthly grant to an artist from monies earned through a soup subscription. A local artist or activist cooked soup to be sold, and diners voted on who would win the grant. This type of self-supporting endeavor exemplifies Schaafsmaâ€™s efforts to build and sustain community.
In 2007, Schaafsma was the Public Art Curator for Around the Coyoteâ€™s Fall Festival. He interpreted â€œpublic artâ€ as a way to bring the public together in social spaces, such as spontaneous film screenings in the Polish Triangle, and interactive sculptures in Wicker Park.
Schaafsma earned a bachelorâ€™s degree in Art History and Urban Planning from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was born and raised. There, he co-founded G-RAD and the Division Ave. Arts Cooperative, alternative community outreach centers.
At age 9, Schaafsma cataloged his personal collection of books, magazines and VHS tapes, and built a library in his basement for neighborhood kids to use. â€œNot until recently did I identify this experience as such a formative one in relation to my current personal interests and practice,â€ wrote Schaafsma in an essay on founding InCUBATE in â€œPhonebook,â€ a directory of alternative artistic spaces. The self-made library â€œgave us access to a pool of new ideas and things that werenâ€™t available to us individually.â€ In sum, â€œwe were able toâ€¦create our own collective knowledge.â€
In 2008 he earned a masterâ€™s degree form the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Arts Administration and Policy.
Schaafsma co-curated â€œOther Optionsâ€ in 2007, a touring exhibition that explored connections among activism, economics, and art making, and self-referentially questioned the nature of the â€œNonprofit Industrial Complex.â€ The exhibition, recently hosted by New York Cityâ€™s Eyebeam, intended to better understand the relationships between artists and funding sources. Schaafsma was well-versed in both theoretical and concrete issues of budgeting for the artsâ€”both financially and as a life practiceâ€”and he could express his concerns in cogent and thoughtful ways. These issues were clearly his passion.
Schaafsma helped artists realize their creative projects without having to rely on traditional meansâ€”the mysteriously bureaucratic systems of museums and granting agencies. Instead, Schaafsma envisioned realistic ways to assist artists and connect their practices to everyday existence. Schaafsma was especially interested in promoting artists who likewise used the public and social spaces as their medium.
Schaafsma recently moved to New York to work as the Program Director at the Elizabeth Foundation. He was injured in a car accident on October 22, and passed three days later. Schaafsma will be buried in his hometown in Ada, Michigan. (Jason Foumberg)
via New York Magazine:
Two weeks ago, the Death Star that has hovered over the art world for the last two years finally fired its lasers. It was October 15, the day the stock market fell more than 700 pointsâ€”againâ€”and a month after Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch collapsed and Damien Hirst pawned off $200 million worth of crapola on clueless rubes at Sothebyâ€™s. Against this backdrop, at 11 a.m., the gates of Londonâ€™s Frieze Art Fair opened, and in streamed the international traveling circus of bigwigs, collectors, curators, advisers, museum directors, trustees, models, movie stars, and critics like moi.
Talk of financial doom filled the air. Karl Schweizer, UBSâ€™s head of art banking, told one reporter, â€œWe are in a liquidity crisis.â€ Money manager Randy Slifka added, â€œThere is blood on the streets on Wall Street.â€ Collectors talked about â€œsewing up our pockets.â€ Yet much of the art world was playing on as if nothing had happened. A German dealer told Artforum.com, â€œThis economic mess will all be over by January.â€ Christieâ€™s Amy Cappellazzo spun her houseâ€™s recent sales: â€œIf you bought something, you bought something real.â€ In truth, most of the speculators are buying something real bad or badly overpriced.
In fact, though, things were different. Those of us who have frequented Frieze could see that something was off. Dealers and assistants who in recent years were always busy with clients now stood or sat quietly. Sales were happening, but slowly, one at a time. The claim of â€œItâ€™s soldâ€ was replaced by â€œI have it on several holds.â€ Although the megagalleries like Gagosian and White Cube teemed with moneyed types and very tall women in very high heels, many younger dealers looked perplexed. A gallerist who entered the field in the go-go aughts and who had sold only two pieces by 5 p.m. that first day asked, â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€
As I made my way through the 152 booths, I thought about the moment in Titanic when the designer of the doomed luxury liner warns Kate Winslet to find a lifeboat because â€œall this will be at the bottom of the Atlantic.â€ When I tried this idea out on attendees, several said I was â€œa buzzkill.â€ I asked, â€œIsnâ€™t the buzz already beginning to disappear?â€
If the art economy is as bad as it looksâ€”if worse comes to worstâ€”40 to 50 New York galleries will close. Around the same number of European galleries will, too. An art magazine will cease publishing. A major fair will call it quitsâ€”possibly the Armory Show, because so many dealers hate the conditions on the piers, or maybe Art Basel Miami Beach, because although itâ€™s fun, itâ€™s also ridiculous. Museums will cancel shows because they canâ€™t raise funds. Art advisers will be out of work. Alternative spaces will become more important for shaping the discourse, although theyâ€™ll have a hard time making ends meet.
As for artists, too many have been getting away with murder, making questionable or derivative work and selling it for inflated prices. They will either lower their prices or stop selling. Many younger artists who made a killing will be forgotten quickly. Others will be seen mainly as relics of a time when marketability equaled likability. Many of the hot Chinese artists, most of whom are only nth-generation photo-realists, will fall by the wayside, having stuck collectors with a lot of junk.
Much good art got made while money ruled; I like a lot of it, and hardship and poverty arenâ€™t virtues. The good news is that, since almost no one will be selling art, artistsâ€”especially emerging onesâ€”wonâ€™t have to think about turning out a consistent style or creating a brand. Theyâ€™ll be able to experiment as much as they want.
But my Schadenfreude side wishes a pox on the auction houses, those shrines to the disconnect between the inner life of art and the outer life of commerce. If they donâ€™t go belly up or return to dealing mainly with dead artists, they need to stop pretending that they have any interest in art beyond the financial. Additionally, I hope many of the speculators who never really cared about art will go away. Either way, money will no longer be the measure of success. It hasnâ€™t made art better. It made some artistsâ€”notably Hirst, Murakami, Prince, and maybe Piotr UklaÂ´nskiâ€”shallower.
Recessions are hard on people, but they are not hard on art. The forties, seventies, and the nineties, when money was scarce, were great periods, when the art world retracted but it was also reborn. New generations took the stage; new communities spawned energy; things opened up; deadwood washed away. With luck, New Museum curator Laura Hoptmanâ€™s wish will come true: â€œArt will flower and triumph not as a hobby, an investment, or a career, but as what it is and wasâ€”a life.â€
via The Art Newspaper:
Green issues are now high up the political agenda, from worries about global warming to research into sustainable fuels. One related topic that is galvanising conservationists is the fate of a number of iconic works of Land Art which are under threat from energy and real estate development.
The use of nature as a medium to create monumental works of art emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a protest against the materialism of the art world. Artists such as Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer and Walter De Maria sought to create works that could not be contained by a museum or placed in a collectorâ€™s home.
Arguably the most iconic intervention in the US landscape is Robert Smithsonâ€™s Spiral Jetty, 1970, a spiral constructed from basalt rock and earth which juts into the Great Salt Lake in Utah from its northeastern shore.
This summer, conservationists won a reprieve from the Canadian oil company Pearl Montana Exploration, which wants to conduct exploratory drilling into the lake bed. In co-operation with Smithsonâ€™s widow Nancy Holt, also a land artist, and the public policy group Friends of the Great Salt Lake, the Dia Art Foundation, which owns and has maintained Spiral Jetty since 1999, started a petition against the drilling. The state of Utah received thousands of complaints. â€œWhat we particularly object to is the potential visual impact that drilling might have on the work, as well as the equally important environmental impact it could have on the lake itself and its delicate ecosystem,â€ says Laura Raicovich, deputy director of Dia. â€œAn oil spill could be disastrous for the lake, and therefore, the jetty.â€
On 13 August, Utahâ€™s Division of Oil, Gas and Mining returned Pearl Montanaâ€™s application for a permit to drill on the land near Spiral Jetty, stating that the companyâ€™s responses to questions on the project were â€œinadequateâ€. Although the company is allowed to refile its application, the state has said it must first â€œmake the necessary investment and professional effort necessary to match the challenges presented ahead by this projectâ€. Ms Raicovich says Dia is working with the state to negotiate the long-term preservation of the work and that the state is conducting an analysis to establish what the visual impact of drilling would be, among other considerations.
Still at risk
Other works remain at risk. On the opposite side of the Great Salt Lake from Spiral Jetty is Nancy Holtâ€™s Sun Tunnels, 1976, four massive concrete cylinders which the artist aligned to frame the rising and setting sun during solstices. In May 2007, the oil and gas rights on a parcel of land directly adjacent to the work were offered for sale by the state of Utah, which said in a press release that it had researched the site, in consultation with the Utah State Historic Preservation Office, and found â€œno historic properties affectedâ€. As we went to press, no bids had yet been made on the land.
Meanwhile in Nevada, Michael Heizerâ€™s City, a massive complex of sculptures and earthen forms built by the artist next to his ranch in Lincoln County, is not yet finished but already threatened by development. Stretching one and a quarter miles across the desert, City is one of the largest works of art ever undertaken, and has occupied the artist for over 30 years. Recently, the US Department of Energy (DOE) revealed plans to build a railway running across Garden Valley, next to the work and the artistâ€™s home. This would transport nuclear waste to a storage facility at Yucca Mountain in southern Nevada. First proposed in the 1980s, the Yucca Mountain project has been repeatedly stalled by legal challenges. Last month, the DOEâ€™s application was processed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and it now has up to four years to complete safety studies and hold public hearings before the site can open. Around $9 billion has already been spent on the project. The DOE estimates that the railway will cost over $2 billion to build.
Despite the developers, the most consistent threat to Land Art is nature itself. Many early examples are eroding as exposure to the elements slowly takes its toll. For most artists, this is part of the worksâ€™ natural evolution.
One of the first monumental sculptures is Michael Heizerâ€™s Double Negative, 1969, two perfectly aligned trenches cut into the Mormon Mesa in Nevada. Around 240,000 tons of sandstone was displaced to create the ravines which span 1,500 feet and are each 50 feet deep.
The work was donated to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Los Angeles by dealer Virginia Dwan. According to the artistâ€™s wishes, MoCA does not perform any conservation on the piece. Meanwhile, the walls of the man-made canyon are slowly crumbling.
A week has already gone by and it’s time again for the Art News Roundup, Yeeehaw! This week many great things happened that we would have loved to cover but Duncan died on the Oregon Trail from a snakebite and Richard got dysentery. Christopher and Amanda made it only to open a saloon in a local mining town where Amanda sings twice nightly and Christopher rigs the roulette wheel to never fall red cause you always bet on black.
What can a bankrupt art investor do after he/she looses their home? Sleep in the Guggenheim!
Called “theanyspacewhatever,” the Guggenheim’s latest offering includes a hotel room, created by Carsten Holler â€” one of 10 artists who make up the exhibition in which artists mix visual arts with other disciplines such as literature, architecture, design and theatre.
The Swedish-based Holler asked if the museum would consider the concept of a sleepover for his Revolving Hotel Room.
“We were very interested in it, because it does in many ways encapsulate the concerns of these artists to really stretch the parameters of what a museum can be,” chief curator Nancy Spector said.
“At night our guests will be able to stay in the museum and enjoy the exhibition by themselves.”
London council votes to paint over Banksy, then installs a camera to watch the camera that didn’t catch him”
Westminster city council in London decided Friday to paint over guerilla-artist Banksy’s largest work in the city.
The council ordered the removal to send a message to graffiti artists.
Robert Davis, deputy leader of the council and chair, told BBC News, “If you condone this then you condone graffiti all over London.” To that I say your right but damn if it isn’t better then any graffiti I have seen in a long while.
Sotheby’s Lost $15 Million Paying Guarantees
Sotherby undersold artworks in auction or failed to sell whatsoever to the tune of $15 million US on guarantees of a minimum price the auction house had with sellers, Sotheby’s said in a filing late yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Good news? with the US dollar at it’s current rate it isn’t that much.
Bilbao’s Guggenheim overpays for art
Director Thomas Krens travels the world living like a playboy and overpaying (for no ulterior motive beyond he’s just a good guy I am sure) with no regard to the bottom line or profitability of the larger company? That is unheard of in the art world! I am [mock] shocked, surprised and amazed that someone can be that irresponsible?
Russians Turning To Art Market As Recession Looms
Russia decides now is the time to get into the Art Market and fair activities. It’s so crazy it brilliant! Now is the time to buy, when no one has the liquid cash. I guess sitting on the worlds diamonds makes that easier to do then most?
Christo and Jeanne-Claude fight to drape a 40 mile stretch of the Arkansas River in Colorado
[artist name] fights [city name] council to enable [cloth type] to be publicly displayed [fill with large dramatic environmental scenario] but some say it’s a stunt that has run it’s course and only props museums needs for tent pole events to get attention. Yet others say it’s an epic event that is shocking and helps elevate the cultural awareness of artistic institutions that glow in the presence of such temporary one of a kind installations over permanent collection additions.
Artist, curator, healer, and writer AA Bronson is the executive director of New Yorkâ€™s Printed Matter and the NY Art Book Fair. This year, the third annual fair, at Phillips de Pury, runs October 24â€“26, coinciding with the ARLIS/NY Contemporary Artistsâ€™ Books Conference, which takes place October 23â€“26. Here Bronson talks about artistsâ€™ books and the purview of the fair and conference.
BECAUSE THE NY ART BOOK FAIR is a nonprofit fair, our idea from the beginning was to be as inclusive as possible: We wanted to include everything from Taschen to the independent, poverty-stricken artist. We gave out a lot of free stands to people who couldnâ€™t afford them, and charged as little as possible. This year, there are quite a number of antiquarian or vintage book sellers; there are DAP and RAM, both major art distributors; there are a number of small publishers from all over the world; there are quite a few alternative institutions that have publishing programs; smaller nonprofit spaces; and also independent artists and artist groupsâ€”people like Red 76 from Portland, for example. If we could find another category that wasnâ€™t being represented, weâ€™d make every effort to jam it in.
This year, there are 143 exhibitors; it was 123 last year and 70 the year before, which means itâ€™s now double the first year. A number of things have happened simultaneously to make the field more salient. One is that book and art-book designers have been influenced a great deal by artistsâ€™ books, so weâ€™re getting used to seeing mainstream catalogues that are quite unusual. The format of the book has become much looser over the past five to ten years. But more than that, I think thereâ€™s been a generational shift. For example, here at Printed Matter, two-thirds of the people who shop are under thirty-five. The norm at book fairs is that everyoneâ€™s over fiftyâ€”when you go to a book fair and look around, itâ€™s all old people. When you come to the NY Art Book Fair, you see a huge population of young people. I think that bodes very well for the publishing and art worlds in general. But it also says something about young people themselvesâ€”they have a level of interest in books that nobody was quite aware of before.
New York used to be a center for art books, but over the years weâ€™ve lost a number of great bookstores: Wittenborn, which used to be across from the Whitney; Jaap Reitman, which was a great bookstore in SoHo in its day; Hacker Art Books on Fifty-seventh Streetâ€”we donâ€™t have any of the great bookstores of the world now. We have the shop at MoMA, where the number of titles has decreased; the shop at the Whitney, which is pretty sad; and the shop at the New Museum, which is very pretty, but it has nowhere near as many titles as it used to. We felt we needed to resituate New York on the map as a center for art books.
In Los Angeles in 2005, there was an ARLIS conference on artistsâ€™ books. We sent a person from Printed Matter, and she came back and said itâ€™s ridiculousâ€”you have to drive everywhere, and itâ€™s totally inconvenient, and yet the conference was a huge success. LA isnâ€™t exactly a center for art librarians, so we thought we should be doing that here in New York. She pulled together a group of librarians from MoMA, the Brooklyn Museum, and the New York Public Library, and we chatted about this possibility. At a certain point, we forgot about it, but in the meantime those librarians kept talking, and suddenly it reemerged, and they came back to us again and said, â€œOK, now weâ€™re ready. Will you join us?â€ We agreed, and off it went.
The initial group of four began inviting other librariansâ€”one from the Metropolitan, one from the CICP, etc.â€”to join a steering group. Each one then devised a session. Itâ€™s put together in a funny patchwork sort of way. Printed Matterâ€™s proposal was for the keynote, which is Hans Ulrich Obrist talking with Rirkrit Tiravanija and Joseph Grigley. Somehow itâ€™s become a coherent program; librarians are a pretty collaborative group, so it cooked well.
The explosion of the visual zine in recent years has been amazing. Itâ€™s possible to produce them cheaply, in smallish quantities, without it costing an arm and a legâ€”and people buy them. This year at the fair weâ€™re doing an exhibition of queer zines. Itâ€™s the biggest exhibition component weâ€™ve taken on in the three years of the fair, and weâ€™ve produced a 270-page catalog to accompany it. There are over one hundred titles in the show, and the catalog is very inclusive. Thereâ€™s also a special section of queer-zine exhibitorsâ€”itâ€™s sort of the theme of this yearâ€™s fair. I think the popularity of queer zines may have something to do with Butt magazine; Butt proved it was possible to do something that situated itself midway between being obscure and being mainstream; it also proved that there was an audience that would buy something like that. Itâ€™s interesting how many there are: Kaiserin from Paris, Dik Fagazine from Warsaw, Piss Zine from Milan, Kink from Madrid, Handbook from San Francisco (one of my favorites), and then of course all the New York onesâ€”Pinups and Pin-Up, Straight to Hellâ€”and then individual artists’ zines, like Paul Mpagi Sepuyaâ€™s Shoot. Itâ€™s become a big field.
What artists are doing today is prompting us to revise our thoughts on whatâ€™s been done in the past. For example, the output of Ed Sandersâ€™s Fuck You press on the Lower East Side, which involved quite a number of artists (Andy Warhol did one of the covers; Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts is its most famous edition), has been totally overlooked as an artistsâ€™ publication. Because weâ€™re used to looking at the Ed Ruschas and Bruce Naumans, thereâ€™s a lot of material that hasnâ€™t received historical attention. Today, weâ€™re revising the history of artist publications; what is happening right now is extremely diverse, itâ€™s no longer a single field.