LONDON — When God said “let there be light,” he probably didn’t anticipate how much that statement would cost in the 21st century. Regarding the Hayward Gallery’s current exhibition, Light Show, security on hand are quick to note that this is one of the most expensive exhibitions the institution has ever staged, with staff receiving strict instructions to keep viewers’ hands off the artwork, especially Leo Villareal’s “Cylinder II” (2012), an ethereal column of LEDs that reach up into the first gallery’s cavernous space.
BERKELEY, California — Artists Julius von Bismark and Julien Charriere have teamed up to create a hilarious installation first in Venice and now in Copenhagen entitled, “Some Pigeons Are More Equal than Others” (2012). The performative work exists on multiple levels: a hanging sculpture (pictured below) captures and holds the pigeons on a conveyor belt, then airbrushes the birds in a rainbow of iridescent colors only to release them back into the city. The colorful and playful piece takes place at different platforms and settings ranged around the cities in lands in.
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Olafur Eliasson’s stunning collaboration with Henning Larsen Architects on the Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Iceland.
Ossian Ward has a feature in Art in America this month about the dismaying trend of bigness in the contemporary art world. The piece is an exploration of a problem that’s only been growing (no pun intended): art as a series of bigger and better spectacles, upstaged only by the vast and cavernous spaces in which it’s shown. Though the article is quite smart and thorough, it left me a little unsatisfied: I think Ward stops short of really digging into what’s at stake here. What exactly is the problem with art as entertainment, anyway? It may seem like an obvious question, but given its centrality to this discussion, it’s one worth asking.
DAVOS, Switzerland — Does art change the world? The World Economic Forum would have you think so. The WEF is meant to bring important people together to create world change, but how can art participate in the cause?
Davos, Switzerland — ModernARTization: Art and Philanthropy Changing Societies. Yes, it’s a mouthful, and I also don’t know what it means, and the presentation didn’t help. Organizer and philanthropist, Victor Pinchuk, hosted a gathering at the Morosani Schweizerhof Hotel in Davos, Switzerland to discuss how philanthropy can change and educate societies through art. I walked away with the impression that the rich were patting themselves on the back.
Over the past week, I’ve been writing about art’s environmental impact and how that factors in to perceived artistic quality. What the debate boils down to for me is the question of whether art is worth its cost of production, and how we analyze a piece of art’s efficacy or value.
When we talking about public art or outdoor installations, we must factor in another aspect of the work’s impact: how does the work effect the public whose space and resources it occupies? Since public art faces scrutiny on a greater scale than most collector-driven contemporary art, it has a greater audience to please, and a greater responsibility towards transparency.
When we talk about art, we rarely talk about its environmental impact. What’s the carbon footprint of manufacturing a fiberglass Jeff Koons versus the making of an Andy Goldsworthy? As opposed to, say, water bottles, the cost of making a work of art rarely factors into how the work is analyzed and accepted. It is not for art critics to ask how many trucks were used to make Spiral Jetty. But why not? At what point do the environmental shifts and changes in the natural order that these pieces require outweigh their artistic value?
All young artists are encouraged to publish their work on a self-named artist website (YourName.com) which puts them in the same arena with art-world big leagues like Olafur Eliasson, Jaqueline Humphries, and Wolfgang Tillmans. The issue of self-branding, self-publication and self-advertising come to the forefront when artist websites as a medium of presentation are critically analyzed.
You may have seen it on your friend’s Facebook pages or the screen of a mobile phone, on a Twitter image service or a Tumblr blog. An aesthetic rash has been plaguing popular photography as of late, but it’s not a new one. A slew of iPhone ‘Polaroid’ applications are turning people’s visual diaries into retro, oversaturated documents of social lives, friends and lovers. But what makes these applications so popular