some thoughts on the prospective space

March 17, 2010

posted and written by caroline picard

I wanted to continue the dialogue around what the space is trying to do.
I just finished Grigley’s book on textualterity and I feel like some of its concern complement the endeavors of this project. At least, in so far as I feel like he is trying to point out and discuss the instability of the art object/text and how its significance is defined by its context, just as that context is reciprocally defined by the work it contains.
As a counter to that, I believe that the weight of cultural production is predicated on a deeper investment in posterity. Institutions reinforce that investment, affording to people a sense that what one makes in one’s life can endure beyond his or her specific demise. In other words, the museum is an alter, in some way, to the dogmatic authority of a given text–the idea that it represents the preserved intentions of its maker. The illusion of that attempt at preservation is measured in the object/text’s economic value. Then, because the value of a cultural product is subjective, commercial galleries are invested in creating an illusion of the same import, such that the gallery can compel the buyer to invest in a contemporary object in an anticipation of its projected historical value. Meanwhile, the artmaker achieves validation when he or she is invested in; by way of recognition (and ideally financial support) his or her work is legitimized. He or she is put to greater ease when anticipating the notion that his or her work will extend through time, beyond his or her demise.
I think what is interesting in this project, at least in part, is that it feels like we are trying to set up an alternative model for legitimacy. One that does not go directly against the standard approach, but rather tries to demistify it, to create an immediate reward via both community and sustainability. So, the artist is approachable, in so far as she or he is working behind a counter. Because we sell things that non-art people like, presumably we give them a reason to inhabit the dialogue of contemporary art and independent culture. By making explicit the synergistic relationship between the for-profit and non-profit parts, we exemplify a new proposal for how our socioeconomic context can support without necessarily participating in the existing strategies for distinction. Instead, we focus on creating a viable model of sustainability–one reflected both financially and ideologically. i.e. Our aim would be to support artists in a day-to-day way, as much as we create a space for dialogue around their work.

I was reading a book about complexity theory last year and i thought the idea presented was a good one. namely that the momentum of culture and custom, as defined predominantly by accident, is too great to throw out or go against. (so for instance, the keyboard’s design came out of transcription, but then became a standard and so even though it doesn’t make sense for our purposes today, we are accustomed to it and if someone tried to start a new keyboard, no one would use it. similarly with ac/dc power and any number of other things). i don’t think we live in a time where revolutions are possible, really, or make any sense. rather, i think it’s much more interesting to try and think about how to use models that already exist and co-opt them for our own purposes.

another example: the press isn’t the sort of thing that will get a book review in the new york times. thus, authors i work with have to have a specific kind of idea as to why they’d want to publish with us. embedded in the process of their publication is a conversation about why they do what they do, what their expectations are and how to accomodate those while also trying to be as authentic to my own vision as possible. (i think it’s a little different with visual artists because i think they have different expectations, and are often more suspicious about ideas of fame). so in order for the press to exemplify its form would focus on such projects of a more intimate value, or a more local import–i.e. working with people who are interested in participating in the space itself, having performances/readings which would speak to our aims.

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