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April 10, 2017 | by  | in Features |
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NOTE TO SELF: HOW TO WIN AT THE ART GAME AND STAY IN YOUR LANE

Written by NZ’s #1 art world bad girl

 

The art world is a game.

It is a game

Have you trained?

Are you ready to run the race?

Do you own New Balances or Nike Frees?

You have to be comfortable, because it’ll take decades to run the race and get to the top.

Unless you’re a WMA¹ making cold af Simon Denny knock offs (let’s be real ;))

There isn’t enough room for everyone, especially you.

You need to at least have your Master’s, then run an elitist ARI² that only promotes and supports you and your friends, but it’s ‘accessible’.

Running this ARI will help you get a dealer.

Market yourself.

You’re a product and so is your art.

Curate your social media to reflect ‘success’ and ‘productivity’.

Curate your social media to always look professional.

Try and be a painter or a sculptor.

Make ‘friends’ with up and coming young artists you can compete against.

Never be vulnerable.

Never be wild.

Make ‘political’ apolitical art.

Overlook bad behaviour.

Take any instances of sexism, racism, or any kind of problematic behaviour towards you or your friends on the chin.

Remember nobody will listen to you even if you get to the top.

Conform.

Perform.

Win.

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.³

Avoid the older curator’s touchy hands at the post-exhibition drinks.

 

Abuse of power comes as no surprise.4

Remember these enlightened art industry elders know more than you even though many of them have no student debt, are Pākehā, and come from wealthy backgrounds.

You must conform and perform.

Never make a fuss or they will silence you. This is very important. Never forget your voice is not important nor should it be.

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.

Cut your hair into the curatorial bob. Wear a COMME des GARÇONS perfume. Wear Miss Crabb or Kowtow black. Invest in black. You need to stand out in the white cube.

To live and work within the fine arts industry you must perform whiteness and class.

You have to be rich to be successful. Unless you want to struggle. If your parents aren’t rich you will have to work ten times harder than everyone else. You will struggle.

Don’t argue with your superiors about how unethical it is that you’re working 20 hours overtime unpaid, when your casual contract stipulates that you are only supposed to work 30 hours not 50.

When a middle aged Pākehā academic tries to bond with you as though you are the same just remember they are delusional and nod and smile.

When you feel pressured to make work about your indigeneity and subsequent trauma for the art institution just remember they need the KPIsto ensure more funding and don’t really have time to give a shit about your mental health.

Remember you must work for free or for nothing and crawl your way to the top.

You’re a little bug. You are nothing. Never forget. There are so many people who can take your place.

Don’t feel upset when the white people around you pat themselves on the back for using token bits of te reo to discuss issues around race within a panel of white scholars.

Scrape along the lower echelons of the art institution until you get to the top. There isn’t enough room for many at the top and don’t forget it.

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.

Don’t question the intentions of the Pākehā curator asking you to use your ‘indigenous voice’, despite you expressing your cultural incompetency and alienation.  

Art institutions and educational facilities are inherently problematised spaces, because of the ways in which capitalism intersects with class and race and immobilises certain people from attaining ‘success’.

From the outside the art world seems like a glamourous critical space which is inclusive and the one industry in which artists are granted the freedom to create work challenging power hierarchies.   

You can be critical but never too critical.

It’s okay to make racist art if you are Pākehā and have a dealer or significant public funding.

Cash rules everything around me

C.R.E.A.M.

#getthemoney

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.

Like universities, the art world functions inside a market economy. This dictates what kind of funding is available, but also whose work gets shown.

The art dealer will protect its investment at all costs. Get an art dealer as soon as you can.

Why do I feel so uncomfortable and intimidated in the art gallery? They are designed to be uncomfortable and intimidating.

Art galleries are not safe spaces. These aren’t safe spaces. A safe space is a utopian idea, but something that you work towards. No art institution in this country is working towards this space.

Galleries are inherently racist and classist spaces.

Work 40+ hours a week to go to art school, to save up, and to place yourself in further debt.

Why are all these art communities made up of ‘peer groups’ that are just groups of friends who don’t hold each other accountable?

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.

Why are these groups are so exclusionary? They all attended the same monotonous trade school and debt-generating networking club.6

Isn’t the role of the ARI to challenge institutions? Why do all these ARIs emulate institutions?

 

THE HYPER PROFESSIONALISATION OF THE ‘EMERGING’ ARTIST

To be an emerging artist is to be a business.

To be an emerging artist is to be complacent and compliant in these structures of power.

An ARI is not meant to emulate the institution, but it does. How do you even begin to challenge this? You can’t, so fall in line.

Auckland ARI charges artists to use their space. Takes a percentage of the sales. Makes artists provide their own drinks and food. Remember it’s not a dealer gallery if its artist run ;).

They don’t even throw you a party.

Shoulder tap your friends and don’t charge them anything ;).

It isn’t elist if you are working for the ‘community’ aka your group of friends.

Feeling uncomfortable about your privilege? Just ask a group of women to perform emotional labour to make you feel better!

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.

Remember when there’s no accountability in your ‘community’ aka friend group, then you can get away with racist, classist, and other toxic behaviour, because everyone will support you ;).

Don’t speak out about any of this behaviour, because this industry is designed to crush and silence you into submission. No one will listen to you or support you.

Remember if you experience racist behaviour no one will support you because it might ‘defame’ a Pākehā artist. The safety of Pākehā artists is more important than your safety, especially if the ‘community’ you’re in is a group of friends.

Remember all the emotional and professional support you give ‘friends’ running an ARI will mean nothing to them if it means upsetting the ‘community’, aka the friend group.

Remember to invite the industry heavyweights, aka problematic Pākehā curators, to your events, because every interaction is a business meeting and you need to get inside these institutions in order to find a dealer.

Don’t trust anyone. The art world functions on individualism.The art school encourages this individualism. Individualism is rooted in neoliberalism and the art world is committed to maintaining these power structures. Often ‘friendships’ you think exist don’t. These ‘friendships’ are your networks. If you are competing against each other for these small opportunities one of you will be the loser, because only one of you can win. You don’t have friendships in the artworld. They don’t want you to win.They don’t want you to be critical. They don’t want to be accountable. Never challenge any of the institutions or the power structures. They want you to be quiet. They will silence you and never forget.

No one will protect you or back you if you say things publicly that people only dare say behind each other’s backs.

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.

Remember you work in an industry where there are no jobs for you when you graduate from university, unless you play this game and dance with the devil.

If you dare to be this transparent you will be deemed ‘high risk’ and you become a ‘bad girl’. Your male peers might benefit from such gendered branding, but you won’t. They don’t care if you don’t identify as ‘female’. They don’t care about you at all. They want you to be be quiet and make quiet art about nothing. If you stay in this industry you will never be able to decolonise, because there is no room for that unless it’s hot in the market rn.

You are nobody.

Conform.

Perform.

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.

 

  1. White Male Artist.
  2. An ARI is an acronym for an Artist Run Initiative.
  3. Appropriated from Kanye West’s “Wolves” on The Life of Pablo, released by GOOD Music and Def Jam Records, 2016.
  4. Jenny Holzer (1980-), from the Truisms t-shirt series.
  5. Key Performance Indicators.
  6. Daniel S. Palmer, “Go Pro: The hyper-professionalization of the emerging artist.” Published September 3, 2016, on ArtNews. http://www.artnews.com/2016/03/09/go-pro-the-hyper-professionalization-of-the-emerging-artist/.
  7. DJ Khaled. Snapchat, 2015.

 

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