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'Craft is an embarrassment for the construction of modern art' - Glenn Adamson, Thinking Through Craft, 2009. What would Frida think? Image: Frida Kahlo handmade pillow on Etsy here Amateur Hour is a showcase for exciting new learning, skills, entertainment and public actions. Submissions in any form welcome to selfinterestandsympathy@ gmail.com.
Tate – hardly a stranger to controversy – has this week come under attack from two artist groups, their criticisms centered around Tate Modern’s tenth anniversary celebration No Soul for Sale, which was held over the weekend of 14–16 May.
Making A Living, an anonymous organisation describing itself as ‘a discussion group of arts professionals currently active across the UK’, issued an open letter to the Tate challenging the museum’s treatment of artists during the ‘No Soul for Sale’ event.
The group write: ‘It has come to our attention that many participants are not being paid by Tate Modern for their efforts. In fact, most are self-funding their activities throughout the weekend. Tate describes this situation as a “spirit of reciprocal generosity between Tate and the contributors”. But at what point does expected generosity become a form of institutional exploitation? Once it becomes endemic within a large publicly funded art space?’
Arguing that ‘it is complacent for Tate to believe that their position is comparable to ground level arts activity’ and that it is ‘disingenuous’ for the museum to claim that this ‘spirit of reciprocal generosity’ is ‘somehow altruistic or philanthropic’, Making A Living go on to accuse Tate of not having paid artists ‘for some exhibitions, workshops and events, including last year’s Tate Triennial’, although no specific details are given in the letter.
They end their letter by calling on Tate ‘to make public its policy in regard to artists’ fees’.
Unto This Last
20 May to 25 July 2010
With work by Thomas Bayrle, Sarah Browne, Andrea Büttner, Alice Channer, Isabelle Cornaro, Dewar & Gicquel, Pernille Kapper Williams and Běla Kolářová
‘Unto This Last’ takes its cue from John Ruskin’s eponymous book to consider the complicated relationships between contemporary art and craft.
Written in 1860 as a manifesto against the prevailing economic theories of the mid-19th century, Unto This Last summons a series of moral arguments to denounce what its author perceived as the devastating social consequences of capitalism. Ruskin’s writings on economy and art inspired the Arts and Crafts movement, which advocated the primacy of handcraft and opposed the division of labour that lay at the heart of the capitalist model. A few decades later the very notion of craft would be widely seen as adverse to the imperatives of modernity and its definition of art, a misconception which has to some extent subsisted to this day.
The exhibition suggests that a number of contemporary artists simultaneously abide by the codes of conceptual practice – autonomy, dematerialisation, abstraction and lack of skills, among others – and to various degrees draw on the critical potential of craft. By introducing supposedly anti-conceptual notions such as artisanship, skill, or emotion, craft effectively provides them with an opportunity to take an unconventional and enlightening look at a variety of personal and collective concerns.
An essay by Glenn Adamson, author of Thinking Through Craft and Head of Graduate Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum will accompany the exhibition, which has been curated by Alice Motard in collaboration with Alex Sainsbury.
Under the term ‘skill’ I mean to include the united force of experience, intellect, and passion, in their operation on manual labour: and under the term ‘passion’ to include the entire range and agency of the moral feelings; from the simple patience and gentleness of mind […] up to the qualities of character which renders science possible […] and to the incommunicable emotion and imagination which are the first and mightiest sources of all value in art.
– John Ruskin, Unto This Last, 1860
Image: Pernille Kapper Williams, Matter upon Matter, 2008. Porcelain, 10.5 x 16 cm (Ø 12.5 cm) Photo: François Doury. Courtesy the artist.
Deller’s exhibition at Void Local Artist, will showcase new work which has never been seen before, alongside a film he made for the 2008 Sydney Biennale. The exhibition will run until 5 June 2010.
Void, Patrick Street, Derry, Northern Ireland
Utopia Matters: From Brotherhoods to Bauhaus
January 23–April 11, 2010 at Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin
Following World War I, avant-gardes turned to the utopian notion of harmony they saw in abstraction and optimistically endeavored to ameliorate society through art and design. Utopia Matters: From Brotherhoods to Bauhaus will examine a sequence of international case studies from the early nineteenth century through 1933, when the Bauhaus closed in Berlin and the ascendancy of Fascism and Stalinism curbed or negatively reframed artistic endeavors, and investigate the evolution of utopian ideas in modern Western artistic thought and practice. It will address the movements of Primitivism, the Nazarenes, the Pre-Raphaelites, William Morris and Arts and Crafts, the Cornish Colony, Neo-Impressionism, De Stijl, the Bauhaus, and Russian Constructivism. This exhibition is organized by Vivien Greene, Curator of 19th- and Early 20th-Century Art at the Guggenheim Museum. This exhibition will travel to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice on May 1, 2010. A fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Greene, noted historian Russell Jacoby, and design historian Victor Margolin will also accompany the exhibition.
Utopia and the Everyday
27th November 2009 – 14th Fenruary 2010 at Centre of Contemporary Art, Geneva
This exhibition invites various local players (associations, schools, etc.) to collaborate with artists and collectives who work within the contact areas between art and educational methods. These knowledge exchanges allow contemporary art and its institutions to become a privileged space for emancipation, transformation and educational experiments. Collaborations between artists and partner publics will be carried out in different projects, outside the Centre’s premises, and presented subsequently at the Centre. They will highlight the social, political, and environmental dimensions of these practices.
Curators : Katya García-Antón and microsillons
Image: László Moholy-Nagy, AXL II, 1927 held here
the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
Paulette Phillips at NCAD Gallery, 100 Thomas Street, Dublin
29 January – 6 March
Inspired by the poetically tragic aura that surrounds E 1027, a villa on the Cote d’ Azur built by architect and designer Eileen Gray for her lover Jean Badovici in 1929. Having built the house as a romantic getaway, Gray eventually walked away from her labor of love. For a period of time it then became known as Le Corbusier’s house, while Gray languished in obscurity.
Magnetized books, nickel plated bronze structure
9.25″ x 9.25″ x 3.5″
“Touché traps two magnetized books, Le Corbusier’s The Poetics of Metaphor with Gray’s monograph Eileen Gray within a cage. One book hovers over the other repelled by its negative energy field.”
Image held here
There are certain sectors of the art world that crave a useful social role for art. Others see art as an activity making important contributions to intellectual discourse. Many look to art for pleasure. And then there are those who appreciate all of this seriousness, but crave the trappings of the entertainment industry too – fame, power, money, glamour, hierarchies, cultural parochialism. One year the art world is interested in this, the next year it’s interested in that. It wants to party, it wants to be scholarly. Markets go up, markets go down. At the same time as the Serpentine Gallery is showing Gustav Metzger, people are posing for photographs licking a giant chocolate facsimile of a Jeff Koons sculpture and throwing themselves on giant mounds of peanuts at the gala opening of PERFORMA 09. America elects a mildly progressive president and suddenly people scream ‘socialism’ as if the year is 1954 and Senator McCarthy is on the warpath. Everything changes and nothing changes.
Dan Fox in Frieze, January-February 2010. Full article here.