Saturday, 2 November 2013

Let's talk about making art (not marketing art)

We just had to share this fabulous, thought-provoking article by Todd London: I Don’t Want to Talk about Innovation: A Talk about Innovation.  

This may be wishful thinking on my (Noëlle’s) part, but it seems more and more writers and artists are speaking out about the ugly commodification of their art. Speaking out against being reduced to ‘content providers’. Resisting the the wearying professional imperative to collect followers and build a brand rather than develop a voice. Refusing to be positioned as part of the marketing mega-industry. I’m not advocating we stick our heads in the sand, but to those who sigh and say well that’s just the way it is, I want to shout: No! It doesn’t have to be like that.

Some work is small-scale and intricate, niche-orientated, demanding, unfashionable in its form or style or subject matter—and that’s OK. Some work is quiet, contemplative, unlikely to draw much in the way of media attention—also OK. Some work will never attract the corporate dollar, some work doesn’t aspire to mainstream status—and that’s OK too. And of course, some work may achieve commercial success without ever having had that objective.

I’m encouraged and cheered by this rising tide of dissent, by the resistance (and resilience) of writers and artists …

In this article English art critic Sarah Kent asks ‘If the most important thing about art is its wacky newsworthiness, how do we engage with it on any other level?’ Artists, she says, are ‘caught between a rock and a hard place. Market domination stifles creativity by seducing artists into producing glitzy commodities that shriek: “Buy me! Buy me!” Kent is discussing the visual arts, but I think much of what she says also applies to theatre, writing and other artforms. ‘Since an important part of their remit is to attract large audiences, museums and galleries unwittingly create a trap of a different kind—encouraging artists to woo the public with accessible art. Often the result is bland mediocrity …’

Finally, a bit of a tangent. In a recent j’accuse-type article Jonathan Franzen points the finger at technology. While he does raise some important issues, I can’t go along with a lot of what he says. Thanks to technology a much wider and diverse group of humans now has the power to tell their own stories. And tell the world what life is like in their particular corner. Here’s a counter POV—one of many written in response to Franzen

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