To have had a good day….

That’s what we all hope for when we head toward the land of nod. The hope that whatever we wanted to accomplish, discuss, start or finish has generated a positive rather than a negative reaction or thought. This is always good.

However, after watching the aftermath, of the aftermath of the aftermath discussions from the recent #rank visit to Miami, I began to pick up on something about the meaning of positive and negative argument that wasn’t altogether obvious (to me) during this latest event.

After witnessing the #class debates held back in February my initial overall impression (viewing from a twitter/stream holed-up in the sticks in the UK) was that of admiration: That a group of artists could get together and discuss – yes vehemently discuss, coherently, problems and the possible solutions to real obstacles that artists face. The very fact that these things were being discussed and bandied about with people who in a lot of cases were perpetrators of those obstacles made me feel things were at last being dealt with.

#Rank too, for me was an event taken further into context within the fringe of the Miami Art Fair – a discussion centred around Art Fairs foibles ; a juxtaposition of interests set squarely in amongst the 4-day window of commerce opportunity that is Art Basle Miami, literally cheek by jowl. The event was later digested in a re-meet-up at Ed Winkleman’s Gallery, again streamed and twitter-linked for a post #rank, post #class discussion. And subsequent further discussions were then taken on-line in the days that followed.

Here is Jennifer Dalton’s #rank was… posted a few days after Miami; the reply was also interesting.

And Feeling Rank Part Three by William Powhida (check One & Two also)

The main difference that I noticed with the current debate, and what I first saw in #class was an upfront no-holds barred discussion at #class by what seemed to be, to coin a phrase Angry New Yorkers as opposed to, say, coining another phrase Whinging Brits. A mixed crowd of people with both passionate and vested interests in art. The post #rank discussion was not seen as so vibrant by those present; admittedly it was only a three hour slot as opposed to a month long series of events as with #class or even the four day window at #rank. And true, those present were also pretty much already on-board with the #class #rank idea so any argument was more on the lines of differing views on a similar theme.

But the energy to discuss for me was still obviously present. So I was surprised to hear that maybe people were being too polite? – holding back from what they really felt.

I then witnessed an on-line twitter discussion about ideology connected with public art institutions, private art collections, funding and government. In which one wider opinion was put very strongly about communism being the only way forward – so strongly I could only think they were playing devil’s advocate in order to drum up some sort of black and white yes-it-is-no-it-isn’t argument. The I’m right you’re wrong that tends to offer no compromise or no solution. Albeit in the finality of a glaring spotlight with black and white clarity.

Still, ineffective politeness and ineffective aggravated debate aside, I do agree that the next set of discussions need to include many voices, like the first hashtag class, with a wide variety of people involved in art and its business. In order to thrash out ideas.

But also, in order for ##rank (hashtag rank 2?) to evolve further this inclusion should have more artists from further afield  to air what must be very differing views and circumstances?. Like the hands-on at Miami with those who could travel distances and those who were local.

Art is a wide community who’s only defining definition is that of the name Artist. The only thing we have in common. And by default the only thing we have to focus on and invoke a-give-a-damn about what happens to a catchall term that describes our actions.
Actions which can be at once either clipped, censored, chopped and or misrepresented seemingly at whim, or left largely unnoticed – be it good art or bad. While being so unregulated when the cash hits the counter it counts for everything or nothing on a similar whimsical scale.

Regulation in the business of art is sadly lacking and the balance of public opinion is more often than not hoisted upon whichever artist of the day is ruffling enough feathers or causing offense. No doubt the offended would prefer a proposed regulation for the license of artists in order to keep the profession unencumbered by *rogue traders*. An oxymoron for the overall meaning of art.

But a clear indication for artists and those looking to understand its ambiguities would do no harm. Business practice too needs an unambiguous clarity:

Structures for a code of ethics for Art Councils, Galleries (public or private) and the business of art needs clarity in order for the art *community* to feel enthusiasm and confidence to nurture and become wholly involved – to give a damn. And not be divided by the ambiguous carrot and stick of the Art Market.

One thing that is screaming out at me from the hashtag events so far is the necessity to lose the inhibitive politeness and speak our minds. Solutions take time but not the attitude to address them, and with that rigorous and informed argument.

And so #class and #rank, overall I found, whether month long, four day or three hours, equates with having a bloody good day in my book! 

Let it grow!        

The Understanding of Class (The Frost Report 1966)


Substitute any of these?:

Art and business, Art and accessibility, Art and class?

In the context of the above noticed this from Gaping Void,…When *dumb* people make money, *smart* people (who make less) get very resentful.

Back next Thursday !

In the meantime Laura Isaac is performing the Tonglen Project PREVIEW: Friday January 7th, 2011 7:00 – 10:00 PM Eastern : Join in !!! as this project is reaching out far and near by proxy email/tweets with a group based project.

The Tonglen Project will be a community-based art event.

At least 3 experienced Tonglen practitioners including myself will assemble in a given space for a minimum of 3 hours to do Tonglen meditation. (The meditators will take breaks as necessary but there will always be at least one practitioner on the cushions at all times.)

  The meditators will wear all white and sit on white cushions.

  All visitors to the space will be provided with a black marker so that they can write those things which are causing them pain directly onto the meditators or cushions.

  Extra cushions will be made available so that anyone who wishes to join in the meditation may do so. These “spontaneous” meditators will not be written on.

The Tonglen Project will debut during the opening of Laura Isaac’s January show at VALA Gallery.

And Platea are starting their Project Vlll Tree-Blogging this Monday 10th ; I recommend all who wish to participate take a peek at the idea!