A view of the “$ECRET$…” ballot box at the entrance of the #class show at Winkleman Gallery (click to enlarge)

When Edward Winkleman offered his new storefront gallery on West 27th Street to artists William Powhida and Jen Dalton to “consider ‘alternatives/solutions’ to the market” they decided to organize a show titled #class. The hashtag in front of the name is a reference to Twitter and the communal tags that help users find related tweets on a given topic, event or idea. Like the online service, the #class exhibition — is it an exhibition? — is composed of crowd sourced content.

The instructions for $ECRET$ OF THE NEW YORK ART WORLD (click to enlarge)

@powhida and @jen_dalton understand that there is a beauty in knowledge culled from crowds no matter how random or tangential. The fact that Winkleman surrendered his space to Powhida and Dalton, and they, in turn, offered it up as a forum for the art community in general, is a pretty amazing thing. They placed a general call for submissions and the accepted proposals have included panels, tours, photo projects, and everything in between.

I’ve only attended the opening parties and part of two events, but I’ve watched at least three events online via their live web cam, which broadcasts whenever the gallery is open (find it on the #class blog). I’ve also followed C-Monster, as she attended artist Yevgeniy Fiks’ communist tour of MoMA (#commietour) — it was one of the most interesting things I’ve followed on Twitter.

From what I’ve seen so far, there are a lot of people with a lot to say. In regards to the results … well, the results have so far been mixed, but they certainly demonstrate the humor, intelligence, and concern of a community that would love to find a solution to the bigger questions the arts community faces.

What exactly is #class? The best description I’ve found, was articulated in the draft mission statement back on January 12, 2010, which is posted on the #class blog:

#class will turn Edward Winkleman Gallery into a ‘think tank’, where we will work with guest artists, critics, academics, dealers, collectors and anyone else who would like to participate to examine the way art is made and seen in our culture and to identify and propose alternatives and/or reforms to the current market system.

It’s ambitious to say the least, but not something people should ever shy away from tackling. #class has been a fully immersive experience, something I didn’t expect. It has consumed my life even though I’ve often tried not to let it.

Help Us With Our Project

When the buzz began, Hyperallergic decided to join the mix by submitting a proposal called, “$ECRET$ OF THE NEW YORK ART WORLD,” which involved placing a ballot box in the gallery for the duration of the event that simply asked if people were owed any money from someone in the New York art world (artist, dealer, publication, etc.).

Where did the idea come from? Well, after hearing about all the heinous amounts of money that The Project and Salander-O’Reilly Galleries owed people before they closed up shop (or were forced to close, in the case of the latter), we guessed there had to be some doozies out there. While, I don’t expect that we will uncover millions of dollars owed to individuals, we want to document the stories that eat at us and frustrate us to no end. We want to hear from you about the $40 you were owed and never received. That artist who promised you an art work but never came through, or that critic who took a work from your studio with a promise of something that never happened. Consider this your confessional, and everything will stay confidential … unless you don’t want it to.

So, if you or someone you know would like to submit to our project, please fill out the form below:


All submissions will be published April 1, 2010, in the form of a PDF which you will be available for download from this website.

By popular request, we’ve also added a fast & easy ONLINE FORM you can fill out.

We can’t wait to see what we will get.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

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