Reading the last page of "33 Artists in 3 Acts" by Sarah Thorton, author of "Seven Days in the Art World" is a relief. I kind of struggled through this book. Perhaps because I find the question "What is an artist?" as excruciating as many of the people who attempted to answer it seem to. The artists I've worked with over the years are extremely dissimilar, as are the 33 featured in this book. As described in this book, they seem to share two things in common- the label "artist" and their divergent goals and personal victories navigating the art world. No two are alike, even if married, and many disagree with each other's approach, practice and methods. That sums up so much of art to me that I find it amusing.
The artist who I was most intrigued by is Andrea Fraser. I am not going to repost any images from any of her performances here for fear of there being some big reason I'll get into trouble for it. I will say I am fully encouraging researching her more and I am going to quote Sarah Thorton quoting Andrea Fraser on page 376 of "33 Artists in 3 Acts."
' "Artists are not part of the solution," she says firmly. "We are part of the problem." What is the problem? I ask. "Give me a minute," she says..."Whether we are talking about cultural capital or economic capital," she says..."art benefits from inequality and the increasingly unequal distribution of social power and privilege. The avant-garde has been trying to escape its own privilege for the last hundred years, but the art world is increasingly a winner-take-all market." She stops and shakes her head. She feels that we are at "the beginning of a new epoch," citing the enormous expansion of the art market as well as art schools and museums that cater to the public's demand for spectacle as much as scholarship. "These things make all the contradictions of being an artist much more intense," she explains."'
- excerpt from Sarah Thorton's book "33 Artists in 3 Acts" page 376
From my perspective working day in and out for the last however many years, witnessing first hand the game that is the art world can be very difficult to stomach. Fraser sums up the challenges I see with art and the physical spaces that contain it being elitist, esoteric and exclusive. Part of my goal as an artist and professor is simply to demystify the entire experience of art and the art world, as much as that impenetrable bubble may be what makes the whole thing seem so valuable to those who collect and endorse it. Despite that, the increasing cost of art school and the privilege of entering those spaces is disheartening. Fraser herself teaches at UCLA, the top art school in the US (labeled by something somewhere.) Tuition at UCLA are posted below directly from their website.
Food for thought.