Articles

The Top 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World

by The Editors on October 28, 2009

powerless20badgeA few weeks ago Art Review announced the Top 100 power brokers in the art world but we thought they missed the real story. So Hyperallergic has released its own list of the people who have never received their moment in the sun.

We present “The Top 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World!”

We haven't seen him for a while, which begs the question,

We haven't seen him for a while, which begs the question,

1 – Everyone entirely unknown to Hans Ulrich Obrist – If the kingmaker isn’t on your cell phone, well, at least your mother is.

2 – The guy in the bunny outfit who year after year protested in front of Gagosian’s 25th Street gallery — hey buddy, how’s the career?

3 – Independent curators without trust funds – There’s a saying, “No trust, no love.”

4 – Artists who can’t speak English, French, German, or Spanish. While the world is filled with approximately 6,800 languages, artwork must adhere to the linguistic realities of economics.

5 – That man at all the openings who might be homeless. Wine at gallery openings may be the art world’s only form of social service to people outside their realm, but hey, it’s something.

6 – Beleaguered Administrative Assistants at MoMA – This is a group that knows what it’s like to be underpaid, under-appreciated and powerless — the trifecta!

7 – Assistant Curators living off $27,000 salaries, with $80,000 in grad school debt from a fancy curatorial studies program. (When students enter MBA programs, professors often talk about the negative investment they make in their futures as they spend money to eventually make six or seven figures upon graduation. In curatorial programs, discussions of economics that don’t reference Marx or Negri are just gauche.)

One city just ain't enough.

One city just ain't cool.

8 – Anyone living in only one place, as opposed to “between Berlin and Beijing,” or “based in London, Amsterdam, Sao Paolo, and Los Angeles.” Where have you been, mono-urbanity is so 20th century. How do you expect to address globalism by staying put? You probably feel even more like a failure if you were born and grew up in the same city that you currently live in. If that’s the case, you should just fake an accent.

9 – All Chelsea gallery interns, working for no pay but needing to buy the latest dominatrix heels for the upcoming opening. (On the plus side, poverty breeds rake-like thinness which in turn ensures job security. As the late great Mary Boone used to say, “Eat a donut and get a pink slip.” Oh wait, she isn’t dead. Never mind.)

10 – Chinese pop-realist painters (Mao, McDonalds—we get it.)

11 – Macrame Club of Minsk, Belarus – Established in 1974, Minsk’s once burgeoning club of hard-core macrame artists has dwindled to only two members, both named Ivan. The group achieved world renown when they macramed their club house and then shellacked it as a tribute to the durability of the art form and the greatness of Vladimir Lenin. Unfortunately, the group never counted on the severity of Belarusian winters, which have caused the structure to leak and eventually be condemned by the city. The two Ivans currently gather at a local tea house for monthly meetings to discuss the gossip-plagued world of macrame.

12 – The faceless miners in Sierra Leone who procured the 8,601 diamonds for Damien Hirst’s sparkling skull – they may fear for their lives every day as they work in hazardous work conditions and subsist on less than 1% of the value of a pencil in a Hirst installation, but they sleep well at night knowing that a silly sculpture that represents the pinnacle of the latest gilded age exists.

13 – The anonymous frog that Martin Kippenberger crucified – Remember high school biology class? Well, so did Kippenberger. The frog’s family has contacted PETA and they are still pondering if legal action is the best way to resolve the contentious issue.

14 – Darren Johnson, security guard at the Main Street Art Museum, Mobile, Alabama – When he’s not protecting the posters in the gift shop from shoplifters, Mr. Johnson is attempting to stop visitors from trying on the museum’s rare collection of pre-Civil War slave shackles.

15 – Prison inmates – Considering they are all doing the exact same performance that Tehching Hsieh did in his SoHo cell, and then some, the fact that they didn’t get a MoMA show for it just highlights their failure.

16 -Jesus Christ, because he’s just too old to show at the New Museum.

17 – Candida Home, blind art blogger. While unphased by a ban on photography in many major galleries and museums, Candida disastrously tried to cover the Lakeland Ceramic Fair in Derbyshire, England and caused over £80,000 in damage because of her proclivity to touch the art. She has since been banned from most major art fairs and institutions and is only writing about public art.

See you at Reena Spaulings?

See you at Reena Spaulings?

18 – Anyone who shows up to a Lower East Side gallery opening non-ironically wearing a button-down shirt and ironed khakis, or eyeglass frames that aren’t from 1983 and gigantic. Pariah!

19 – Rosalind Krauss – we included her on this list because we couldn’t remember who she was and we were too lazy to Google her.

20 – Art critic for the wacky right-wing World Net Daily who floated the idea of McCain inspired art as a weapon against the deluge of Obamart.

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  • http://heartasarena.blogspot.com/ Heart As Arena

    Don’t know why anybody’s worried about the Administrative Assistants at MoMA. I’m sure Glenn’s sharing all his extra perks with them. Oh, right. Nevermind. Killkillkillkillkill the poor.

  • http://cleverthingstosay.com Miles K

    Do you guys think that people wearing ironed khakis ironically are likely to be powerful? I never thought I’d see the day where the mighty wake up early in order to sarcastically dress themselves.

    • Lyra

      huh?

  • i’m just sayin…

    i don’t think rosalind krauss has anything to worry about, especially not power and money

  • Sara H.

    21. Editors who have nothing better to do than classify people and call them powerless in an attempt to deflect their own shortcomings, (and oh yeak, work for an ezine and get paid per google ad click.)

  • http://www.stewart-sanabria Denise

    I’m worried about my Khakis-should one iron center creases down the leg? Pleated or flat front? I don’t want to do anything wrong. Oh, oh-I have #21. Southern artists that are more interested in what’s going on in Miami than in NY. My god, most of us don’t even wear black!

  • http://ohprettylady.blogspot.com Pretty Lady

    Who the hell is Hans Ulrich Obrist?

    • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

      Exactly.

      • katiechasm

        There are these things called search engines…

    • Hans

      Well, now we know who you are, pretty lady.

  • wwiiggss

    21 – Anyone who became Facebook friends with Leo Koenig thinking it would further their art career only to get updates on his thighs as he trots around the globe obsessively running Ironman races.

  • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

    Brent Burket (aka HeartasArena) just posted a link on Facebook to an old post of his that reveals a shocking truth about the Gagosian Bunny Man….he isn’t really a bunny! http://heartasarena.blogspot.com/2006/02/truth-revealed.html

  • http://heartasarena.blogspot.com/ Heart As Arena

    I felt like the luckiest non-bunny human on the planet when I captured that. Then I immediately felt sad because my illusion was roadkill. Splat!

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  • http://www.portlandcityart.com Charlie Alan Kraft

    Hey, queers!

    • http://hragvartanian.com Hrag

      Well, aren’t you charming…not.

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  • Fuck

    Yoooooooo
    You may lie down and suck
    don’t annoy Minsk,
    thay have enough power to bury you alive

  • http://www.sva.edu/ce/blog SVA CE Blog

    What’s so funny about Rosalind Krauss? She’s awesome! One of the few female University Professors at Columbia~

    • http://kerriebwrye.blogpsot.com la femme artiste

      Hm-m-m_ “One of the few female University Professors at…”

      Exactly! Anyone heard about: “Who Does She Think She Is?” http://www.whodoesshethinksheis.net/

  • blahbalh

    What about William Powhida? Or the guy who comes to all the openings with Einstein hair and crazy pants?

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  • Frank

    I must insist that a 21st position be created for the son of the owner of the run-down Asian place who brings napkins and silverware but seems un-phased by the powerlessness of the job. His income may may simply be future job security.

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  • http://the7030project.blogspot.com Oly

    Frank’s Deli’s deliveryman who gives all the galleries huge orders of ice each Thursday. Somehow he manages to keep on keeping on.
    I love him.

  • Rev. Early

    Other than liking Sierra Leone’s movies and admiring Ulrich’s wins in the Tour de France, those of us here at The Republic of Pinkingshear National Gallery of Art don’t know these other people. Beyond that, the consensus is that we all like the bunny.

    Cheers.

  • http://www.foundcurve.wordpress.com Amy Shaw

    This is hilarious! I want to contribute an idea for #21, but am just not as clever as you. Maybe that makes me #21…

  • Lyra

    One could argue that collectors and dealers are always powerful, but when you see them freaking out about a terrible artwork inside a booth at a fair, they suddenly seem, well, dumb. Dealer: ‘You see, it’s both a painting AND a sculpture! Therefore, a hybrid object!’ Collector: ‘Oh my! Yes, now I see that! How intriguing!! How much?’

  • http://the7030project.blogspot.com Oly

    HA! Just read the above Leo Koenig comment. That’s the best one so far!!!!!!!!

  • http://godlessliberalhomo.blogspot.com/ libhomo

    I’ll add my personal #21.

    Any of us unwashed masses who can’t afford to buy anything at the trendiest galleries.

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  • http://www.ponor.info ponor

    What’s a moment in the sun? And why is it worth anything anyway? Sorry, just saying.. Feeling utterly depressed after reading all this – in an ironical way. Of course. Sigh. Clatters off….

  • http://www.andy-mercer.co.uk Andy Mercer

    I’m the 101st.. what is art ?

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  • Howard

    Critic is systematicly absorbed by the system and is a sine qua part of its existence

  • http://gallerybeat.net/ Tamara

    We loved this list so much, we linked to it on our site. GalleryBeat sends kudos to Hyperallergic…

    • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

      Thanks for the shout-out…greetings from Hyperallergic :)

  • http://www.RoydenMIlls.ca Royden Mills

    Clement Greenburg had pleated Khakis, several languages, a wicked focus that propelled a generation to focus on building an idea ….regardless of the idea’s validity….it seemed like the conversation stimulated something worth thinking about….but flippant dialogue about Pleated pants and Diamond skulls and slave labor artists and art curators is the substance of our times….maybe if we all could dare to say something resonant….we are so bloody vulnerable to things…we already know that…….what we do in spite of life’s challenges can redefine an era….Greenburg like anyone had so many faults, but he stuck his neck out and propose something that had enough substance that Deconstructivists were able to chew on it for a couple generations…but where are we now….do we believe in anything…..I think there are people who are further along…direct others to them…

    • Errataagain

      Do not let your guard down. Do not relax. Do not give in. Do not succumb to the power of art. Sure, but I do not see what Clement Greenberg has to do with Frank Gehry. What did Clement Greenberg propose that functioned as a sort of very long lasting bubble gum to architects, was it… oh, wait, Clement “Greenburg.” Sorry, my mistake. #21, Clement Greenburg?

      • Errataagain

        @ errataagain: don’t give in to the power of BAD art, the power of baad, bad art. Is what I meant.

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  • http://hereisafantasylikenowhereelse.wordpress.com corinna

    fantastic. love it. live it.

  • Berit Heggenhougen-Jensen

    all righhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht

  • http://rozanski.tk junta
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  • Muzi

    who is the pink rabbit?

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  • Charlie M

    #21 – Everyone. Because so very people know what good art is. It’s all about marketing, fads, and going viral.

    When Koons PAYS someone to make a inflatable lobster and it’s considered great art because it’s “DEEP” since it references Dali’s Lobster Phone, it only shows how shallow the art world is.

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