Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dieu Donné Benefit and Ann Hamilton too!

Dieu Donné is the world's leading cultural institution dedicated to serving established and emerging artists through the collaborative creation of cutting-edge contemporary art using the process of hand papermaking. As you know I work there frequently, and have met some of the wonderful artists who collaborate with them.Last night was their annual benefit. It was great, in addition to a silent auction, they honored Ann Hamilton and  performed her piece, Page Sounding. 

Below are some snapshots from the event,  a short clip of the performance and a video of the process at Dieu Donné  to make that paper.


Friday, October 24, 2014

W.A.G.E. Rage — an Update

I'm happy to write this follow up to a blog post I wrote in 2009, called W.A.G.E. Rage. It's been one of my most popular posts. I wrote about how W.A.G.E., Working Artists for a Greater Economy, is trying to create a model for artists to earn money from their work in a lot of different ways. Here's some good news I received in a recent email from W.A.G.E.:

"W.A.G.E. just launched W.A.G.E. Certification, a paradigm-shifting model for the remuneration of artistic labor.
Initiated and operated by W.A.G.E., Certification is a program that publicly recognizes non-profit arts organizations that demonstrate a history of, and commitment to, voluntarily paying artist fees—it is also the first of its kind in the U.S. that establishes a sector-wide minimum standard for compensation, as well as a clear set of guidelines and standards for the conditions under which artistic labor is contracted.

W.A.G.E. worked in dialog with artists, arts organizations, writers, sociologists, labor historians, and critical theorists over the past four years to produce a scalable model that can be applied across the non-profit arts economy in all its variation: from small artist-runspaces struggling to support a single employee to large institutions with hundreds of full-time workers and top salaries in the seven figures.

We are also proud to announce that, working with W.A.G.E. over the past year as part of a two-year Research Partnership, Artists Space has met the policy’s requirements and paid fees meeting a minimum standard specified by the program’s fee calculator—making it the first organization to be W.A.G.E. Certified.

If you know our work, then you know that these are major achievements in the history of W.A.G.E. What you may not know is that for the past six years we have operated on speaking, writing and workshop fees. It's a miracle we've lasted this long.

W.A.G.E. can only keep fighting for equitable compensation if we ourselves are compensated.

We are asking you, as our constituency and our community, to join W.A.G.E. by directly supporting us: help us raise $75,000 by making a tax-deductible donation to Wages 4 W.A.G.E. Funds will be applied directly to minimal overhead costs, which include paying our dedicated organizers a living wage. We cannot W.A.G.E. RAGE without you!

W.A.G.E. Certification's guidelines and fee calculator are at

To support Wages 4 W.A.G.E. please go to"

I am excited to say, "For the times they are a changin'"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Selfie Ergo Sum

O.K. I'm still obsessed with selfies at the moment, even though the first usage is reported as early as 2002.  I looked up some definitions:

Merriam – Webster    self·ie   noun \ˈsel-fē\  An image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks

Oxford English Dictionary   Syllabification: sel·fie   Pronunciation: /ˈselfē  (also selfy)   NOUN (plural selfies)   informal  A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social mediaoccasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary    selfie   [sel-fee] Spell Syllables   noun, Informal.  A photograph that one takes of oneself with a digital camera or a front-facing smartphone, tablet, or webcam, especially for posting on a social-networking or photo-sharing website.

There are lots floating around on the web, even lots of articles like: The 29 Greatest Selfies Of All Time from the Huffingto Post.

Hashtag fundraising is something which has become hugely prevalent in the last few months. This new popular method of fundraising seems to offer the holy trinity of selfiedom. exposure, cachet and self congratulation. In our increasingly media conscious lives, it is hard to feel meaningful. 

Probably the most famous was #icebucketchallenge. From home movies (home videos?) to Bill Gates well produced video,  according to the BBC over 2.4 million ice bucket-related videos were posted on Facebook. Did that really translate into money for the charity? Yes and No. The money did go up for many charitable organisations. Pre-ice bucket, the MND Association was receiving about £200,000 a week in donations while between 22-29 August, it received £2.7m. The danger is that people may feel "done" and if the charity doesn't come up with something else as "fun," it may lose supporters very quickly.

The success of the ice bucket challenge was entirely different to that of #nomakeupselfie. It's viral nature was a result of its nomination capacity. Those completing the challenge asked  friends to follow suit within 24 hours, and thus Facebook newsfeeds were taken over by the videos, with a better than average chance of nomination for everyone.

William MacAskill, founder of 80,000 Hours, publicly came out against the ice bucket challenge stating, "The challenge gives you a way to very publicly demonstrate your altruism via a painful task, despite actually accomplishing very little (on average, not including those who don't donate at all, a $40 gift, or 0.07% of the average American household's income): it's geared up to make you feel as good about your actions as possible, rather than to ensure that your actions do as much good as possible."

Ultimately only time will tell if #hashtagfundraising increases our propensity to give and to generate more selfies, or just allows us to feel better while doing less.

Getting to the art part of friend during at the San Francisco Art Institute and a great phitographer, Adal Maldinado, has been doing elegant and interesting takes on the selfie. These next images are from his book of self-portraits, "I Was A Squizophrenic Mambo Dancer for the FBI" by Pull Press, NY, 1990-2006

You can see more at!auto-portraits   But what I like the best are some of his very recent ones from work called "GO F_CK YOUR Selfie." It's on Facebook now along with fans who have submitted their own selfies in response.  

Hmmm, groups, responses, charity, art and more— doesn't sound so selfie to me.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Collectors, a Rare Breed

Rome made me think about collectors. People like the Popes, the Borghese, the Medicis or the Farnese, who transformed Florence and Rome. 

I also encountered other kinds of collectors, those who just buy and buy, often the same things over and over again like Evan Gorga. For instance in the current exhibit at Pallazzo Altemps, he owned multiple examples of mortars (for pestles) in the shape of fingers.

And the impulse is everywhere. Look at Graham Barker who collects his navel hair or Natasha Goldsworth who has an enormous Hello Kitty collection.

And of course, the famous/infamous Herb and Dorothy, with whom our interest shows no sign of abating.

Art News publishes the top 200 collectors every year or one might look at a more historical list of collectors. And so on and so on.

If 98% of Americans have a moving experience with art at some point in their lives, why do only 27% think artists should be paid reasonably for their labors?  ,,,Let us now thank collectors one and all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Echo Shapes

Echo shapes eternally reinterpreted. The strategy connecting old and new.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Veni, Vidi, Selfie

I am still amazed by the connectivity of all our new devices. Here I am on a super fast train (250 mph +) from Rome (heyday 200 b.c.e.) to Florence (heyday 1400 to 1700 a.d.) and I'm using a smaller than a deck of cards 64 gig wireless hard drive loaded with a SD card from my camera to send images directly to my phone where I am blogging via the internet (so now.)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Selfie, Selfie, Selfie

The current wild wave of selfies has given rise to a host of controversy. And has spawned a new industry.  Guys now walk around Rome selling sticks that will hold your cell phone far enough away to get yourself, your loved ones and a monument. Monumental vanity?