Studio Visits, Melbourne

Who makes them, who gets them?

Charlotte Laubard, Paris based freelance curator and critic, was in Melbourne over June as part of a residency auspiced by the VCA Gallery. Laubard has the reputation of being interested in artists and ever-ready for a studio visit. Over a three week period Laubard met with and visited the studios of Adrian Allan, Brook Andrew, Jon Campbell, Christian Capurro, Kate Consatine, DAMP, Julie Davies, Alicia Frankovich, Kate Fulton, Tony Garafalakis, Bianca Hester, Lou Hubbard, Michelle Ussher, Susan Jacobs, Kati Rule, Simon Maidment, Nick Mangan, Amanda Marburg, Alex Martinis, Rob McHaffie, Tom Nicholson, Kain Picken, Alex Rizkalla, Geoff Robinson, Kiron Robinson, Johnny Targan, Elizabeth Newman and Kati Rule, Amanda Marburg, Sharon Goodwin. Charlotte visited galleries including Uplands, Ocular Lab, ACCA, Victoria Park and Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces - and the Sydney Biennale.

Jen Budney, curator at Kamloops Art Gallery Canada, on her way to the Sydney Biennale, stopped over in Melbourne for six days. Budney met and made studio visits Callum Morton, Elizabeth Newman, Johnny Targan, Christian Thompson, Tom Nicholson, Jon Campbell, James Lynch, DAMP and Brook Andrew. She also visited Uplands Gallery, Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Victoria Park Gallery, MUMA, Gabrielle Pizzi Gallery and Anna Scwhartz Gallery.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the 2008 curator of the Sydney Biennale and chief curator at Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art outside of Turin, also meet with artists and visited galleries in Melbourne. ACCA hosted a curatorial lab for Christov-Bakargiev, Zdenka Badovinac, director, Moderna Galerija Ljubljana, Slovenia
and Patrick D Flores, curator and writer, from the University of the Philippines, to meet Melbourne artists and see their work.

Flash Art studio visits


Anonymous Anonymous said...

has any unknown artist ever actually got a show thru one of these big curator studio visits? couldnt they save everyones time and just google "Australian Art"? who gives em? who gets em? who cares?

8:07 AM  
Anonymous David said...

its just like the majority of people get closed out and one gets chosen every few years. Patricia, Ricky , Callum. I don't get it!

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the issue is transparency, rather than visits per say. Everyone knows (maybe) how communities work - the art community is confusing, it mixes the business with personal, and the personal with professional - generally a good thing I'd say. Friends recomend friends and friends they respect - its a word of mouth game where the boundaries between professionalism and friendship are a tad blurred.
Transparency is - talking about this and not disguising it by perhaps putting ads in the paper to call for propsals, when desisions have perhaps already been made.

7:44 AM  
Blogger geoff lowe said...

It would be really helpful if writers could use names or at least blogger names. So that everyone is not anonymous and be able to follow the conversation.

Friendship is a really interesting idea. Maybe it would be impossible to sustain without it? Though it seems you have to abandon friends to climb the ladder?
Most positive moods from outside the institutions seem to come from groups of friends or collegues, some have been very sustained.
There seems to be a greater range of curators coming to Melbourne now though, some more with interest than power?

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how many interesting projects came out of the curator junket that we sent to japan again? who would become a curator anyway? that gets to the heart of the whole professional friend issue.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous David said...

what was the curator junket sent to Japan?

1:26 PM  
Blogger geoff lowe said...

well being a curator gives you a lot more privileges and freedom of movement in the artworld... there's such an oversupply of artists. I guess thats why there are so many curator/ artists everywhere (maybe putting their friends in shows and events?)
Do you think it's a war between curators and artists? or are the roles blurring?

are you the same anon as before?

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

I was the anon friend, talking transparecy.
The curator/friend/professional thing, i think about from time to time... there often seems to be so much negative attitude towards curators - but i often wonder whether if we thought about them in a different way - as artists with links that like to write - whether we might appreciate them more....maybe they are like a good band booker - one that moves from venue to venue taking the same bands with them, taking risks and playing new bands with old bands to see what audience they might get - supporting the old and the new, and seeing what happens when they intersect - maybe these are the ones with interest and less power - and in that respect, maybe they are more interested in a dispersal of power, or empowering others.. (perhaps, I'm a little niave though)

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more like bad band bookers who think they are in the band.

6:10 AM  
Anonymous mikey said...

My proposal is: I just wanna be your friend!

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

remember when those crazy band Booker's were asked to describe their role in the art world and they said they were like movie directors. That said it all for me.

5:15 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Hi, everyone. For the record I'd like to say that I really enjoyed my time in Melbourne; saw a lot of good art both inside and outside of artists studios. In fact, one of the great things about visiting a place rather than googling "art in Melbourne" is all the "unofficial" things ones sees when following an itinerary. When I'm doing studio visits in other cities or other countries, it's normal that lots of artists show me the work of other artists they are interested in (not always, but sometimes, their friends); I get to look at old publications and invitations that never make their way to Canada or -- god knows -- to Kamloops; and equally important I get to hear many different perspectives on the particular art scene where I am at -- perspectives that do not often make their way into publications or onto the net.
I want to stress again that some of you may be surprised at how generous other artists are, recommending the work and activities of their peers, some who they've never even met. From some of the comments here I get the feeling that some of you think artists and curators are all about individualistic competition and conniving one against the other. Why are you doing it then? How bloody stressful is that? I'd quit if I felt that way all the time. On the other hand, perhaps generosity comes more easily when talking to "outsiders" -- so as an outsider I see the finer sides of everyone.
But as for mixing the "personal" with the "professional", isn't it hard to distinguish one from another when we are pursuing vocations, rather than careers? I'd hate it if all I did was "business." There is a great pleasure in art that is not only emotional and intellectual stimulation but also the sense of being a part of the creation of possibilities -- of doing something more meaningful than earning a paycheque or producing widgets. Friendships naturally result from this kind of energy -- friends that could be described in another universe as comrades. Furthermore, most art productions involve collaboration on some level or other -- even a colour field painter with her dealer -- and how many of you have ever tried collaborating when some kind of friendship has not been or cannot be established? It ain't pretty.
Finally I'll add that the "payoffs" from travel and studio visits and meetings with other curators and visits to galleries, etc., cannot be measured withing a limited a time frame. Seven years after visiting Finland for the first time I am working on my 5th project involving Finnish artists and/or art institutions... one project leads to another and one relationship leads to another... as long as one avoids cynicism possibilities always arise. And for the record, helping to create possibilities and connections is something I think curators do. I am not sure, Geoff, if it gives us more freedom. I work 9-5 and you don't, for instance. I have to think not only of the art but of the audiences in a way that can sometimes be very challenging if not limiting. Not to mention directors! But I don't have any complaints. Sometimes I get the feeling that artists think it's all about curators picking and choosing when in fact there are all kinds of institutional and interpersonal and simply political negotiations we must make -- I like to think on behalf of both artists and audiences or participants. I like the comparison Lisa makes to being a good band booker, I think. I don't think I'm in the band, anon. Do you really think curators think that or is that just easy to say?
Anyway, that's enough for now. And I am planning a show of Australian art here. I'll keep you posted.

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

producing widgets said.....

im holding my breath in anticipation of the artists you have uncovered. those google guys must be shaking in their boots.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

I understand that the experience of watching curators come through your own place can be frustrating. I remember one year when Manifesta curators did a tour through Italy and met with dozens and dozens of artists, curators, gallerists, etc., while doing research for their show, and in the end they chose only one Italian artist and it was Maurizio Cattelan. It was the kind of experience you (whoever you are) are describing and for sure that can sting (or stink)! I'm sure they justified it with budget concerns etc. but it didn't help the morale of many artists in Italy who thought it proved they really had no chance. But not all examples of curators coming through are that bad, and what I've been trying to say is I don't think bitterness is a good solution for anyone. It never properly offends the people you are trying to offend, and in the end is only self-defeatist. Hey, anon, if you are an artist why don't you send me some info on your work instead? Perhaps then we could have a real dialogue.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

producing widgets said....

hey jen, im not bitter or trying to offend. ive accepted the situation and am commenting about it. As far as the "think they are in the band" comment, hell yeah i really believe it. (im sure there are acceptions). You could descibe a pimp as being like a good band booker. Every curator ive delt with plays the "were all in this together" card when it suits them. but were not are we? the power is a little to uneven for that and its in curators best interest to keep it that way. i dont doubt that most curators try hard to do there jobs well, so how do we explain the crappy shows that result from breeze thru studio visits? im not saying that your not trying Jen, Im saying the system doesnt work. Maybe the money could be better spent.

5:46 AM  
Blogger geoff lowe said...

It is positive and possible enough for me to devote all my time to working in art situations.Some sort of trust is inherent in every working together. There is though an oversupply of artists. If I want to go to an event, exhibition, party or network as an artist I'll be probably left standing outside. If I go as a curator or writer, I'm seen as someone who has something useful to exchange so I most likely won't be excluded and will be let in. Also I think many curators make work that is as interesting as artists, sometimes more so when it encompasses so much and reaches a lot of people. I guess part of me is just very interested in what the people who-don't-get-in are thinking and feeling? And what they say?
where producing widgets said....Im saying the system doesn't work. Maybe the money could be better spent...
In fact there isn't a whole lot of public money now, less and less. It seems we are on the precipice of moving to private funding, after that there is no real collective ethic of who should get what. Still in Italy a lot of projects are funded by individual collectors and it seems to get some good results. Those collectors seem to visit studios, you certainly see them everywhere talking to artists and curators and all.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous I think i digress said...

Private / Public / Personal funding and support is another blurring the artworld does well. Each on their own, existing without the other is problematic - a market driven/ state owned / isolated cultural practise for any place or time is not conjusive to a open and free flowing dialogue or exchange. The three forms of support need to exist in order for a viable cultural pracise in a place to exist. The power balance between the three fluctuates over time re-ordering and changing the form of cultural products, ensuring there is some sort of perpetual reciprical exchange - maybe. Ideally, curators (some) assist - not mandate - in making visible the fluctuations and changes. If cultural product is soley funded by the private sector - we run the risk of becoming primarily market driven by those whose wealth determines their power. (not to ignore that this might already be the case). Public funding ensures that private funding doesn't dictate and vice versa. And then there is everything inbetween.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Geoff, I disagree that there is an oversupply of artists. Perhaps you mean relative to the system, but if so the second part of that always needs to be said. If we believe there are too many artists we play into the hands of all those forces that would keep artists, art, and all the possibilities generated from artists and art, totally marginalized, as it tends to be now. I think we need more artists, and I think artists need to infiltrate more spaces in our cities and towns, more positions within our economies, within our politics, etc. The problem is not too many artists, it is too few possibilities for artists to act within the marginalised, "professional" spaces that have been established for "art presentation" or "art viewing." I am not being Pollyannish -- as much as I enjoy my "profession" and am trying to do it the best I can, I know it isn't really a "profession" like a dentist or vet. And I think as people working with art one way or another we really need to insist on this lack of professionalism if you want to call it that at all times or we start to believe that the stupid structures we are working in are true. They're not true, it's all a fiction we've inherited and it keeps art and artists marginalized. We can refuse the fiction in part by saying yes to more and more artists.... Of course none of this is a practical solution to where can artists show today but somehow I think it needs to be the beginning.
As for the crappy shows, widget, I wonder if they result from curators believing in the "profession" -- therefore exhibitions can be ill-conceived career strategies -- designed for one's bosses above all? Or is there the perception of a popular demand to see the same artists all the time?

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

producing widgets said...

I wonder if they result from instatutions believing in "curators". I think the issue of private funding Geoff raised is a good one. At least with private funding someone is held accountable for how the money is spent. This doesnt seem to happen with public spaces. Can someone justify how a place like ACCA sucks up so much money, at puts on such poor shows.

4:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who went to the ACCA hosted curatorial lab?

4:21 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Public institutions are supposed to be accountable. Most have memberships -- at least here -- do they there? That is where the board of trustees come from. But what can happen is the director stacks the board and presents only the "bottom line" info to them -- the directors are only interested in the prestige anyway -- and the rest of the members never show up to AGMs, never write letters, never get involved. These organizations are supposed to be democracies, but like most present "democracies" of any size, they are hierarchical and designed really to freeze out all those who are not in established positions of power and/or who don't have money. What happens to ACCA if they put on shows nobody likes? Does anyone say anything in a public way or does everyone kind of suck it up and complain in private?
What if funding for public institutions was project-based and not on an operational basis? And the proposed projects were juried by artists at the arts councils?
What other ways could we run public institutions -- so that they are actually public?

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Riva + Lowe said...

Well I think Unquiet World at ACCA, just finished, was one of the better shows I have seen.
My understanding is that we are moving from public to private funding whether we like it or not. I agree with all 'I think I digress' said, the point is it’s changing all around us. Citizens appear to want tax breaks and home loans rather than strong public institutions in this moment. You don't have to be an economist to realise it’s bogus but we continue to change. (Blair Trethowan used to say 'Don't blame me I voted for the guy with the nervous breakdown'.) For instance, Melbourne University is now intensely seeking philanthropic funding for scholarships along the lines of the U.S. That institution is fast moving away from public funding and is instigating user pay fees. Even though it was among of the first free universities.
So only institutions that are primarily funded by public money are in that sense accountable.
This tells me two things: first, we are in a changing system that makes it hard for participants to identify their rights and position.
And second, as public funding diminishes, those that are missing out seriously want to blame someone.
Curators often appear to be operating in oligarchies that are sometimes remote from what artists are working on or concerned with.
The aim of SPEECH is to try and find ways to represent what is currently in private as well as public discourses. We are currently in a bit of a bind that those who work for institutions feel they must refrain themselves form saying anything for 'professional reasons'. And practitioners seem to only feel they can make anonymous jibes because otherwise it will hurt their chances with those very same professionals.
Still there does seem to be some foment out there.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

I can tell you as a curator that most directors put a lot of pressure on us these days (when the two-- director and curator --are not one and the same person) to bring in "blockbusters" like big old tired seen that warhol shows. who needs to see a print of jacqui o again and again? blockbusters come in and directors say 'the people will love this because they will think they have to.' (actual quote) yes, it is totally related to funding - the whole bums in seats mentality that makes for bad theatre. it isn't private sponsors that ask for this -- although they like to see it -- it is government funding agencies that are nervous about 'accountablity' and can't come up with any sort of justification for arts funding that is not related to numbers.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Charlotte said...

Hi Guys, just had a look on your ongoing conversation about the Bermudes triangle artist/curator/institution.

Well, firstly I have to say that I was very happy to discover that there is much better to find in Australia than Ricky/Patricia/Callum. And I really hope to be able to collaborate soon with some of these artists I met.

I don't see a curator as a egotistic person trying to 'sign' shows. This is a vision that belongs to the 80s when artists were the last gods and the curators were heroes. I see the relation curator/artist as a partnership. The curator is there to give means to the artist to produce his work. The curator's fantaisy is not to be an artist, but to participate to the Art History of tomorrow. I think that's an OK fantaisy no? And you don't need power to work closely with an artist that might stay in History. You just have to build an extraordinary relationship with him/her. That's it.
Of course there are many people who use power to create distance, hierarchy, or exclusion. I don't think that they will make History.

6:42 PM  

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home