More on Art About the Art World

More from the thread on Paddy Johnson's blog where I suggested that Brooklyn's Momenta Art had better things to be doing than a show called "Air Kisses: Art About the Contemporary Art World." I threw out some reasons this might be the case and got some mud slung my way. Then Laura Parnes of Momenta weighed in:

Hi Tom,
Did you actually see the show?
I agree that there are incredibly pressing issues to deal with right now, however the artworld is fueled by the richest people in the world. Many of whom are responsible for these “other” pressing issues you speak of. The absurdity of the artmarket and the sick power games that occur are symptomatic of something much larger. Understanding our relationship to it as arts workers is worthy of examination.
Laura Parnes

My reply (not on Johnson's thread, just here):

Hi, Laura,
I wasn't reviewing your show and didn't claim to--just offering my thoughts on the press release you sent me in advance of the event. I can do that, right?

In any case, you don't have to convince me the art world is a corrupt, insincere place. I don't think it's a surprise to anyone.

Occasionally someone makes a good self-reflective work about his or her own industry. The movie The Player is a great example. Or Network. Or your own Hollywood Inferno, with Guy Richards Smit as a silver tongued media devil. But movies and TV reach millions and understanding how they warp the body politic is a matter of some urgency.

The art world is comparatively tiny and while its most egregious consumers are influential, they are not the ones who will see and be most affected by a self-reflexive show--instead it's artists themselves, who already know, or a public inclined to view artists as self-absorbed complainers rather than innovative agents of social or aesthetic change.

But more importantly, the art world is steeped in self-critique, and things never get better. Our most ingenious efforts haven't stopped something like that Deitch reality show where artists line up to be made into "stars." You yourself have been eloquent on the impossibility of transgression in a world saturated in media irony.

To me the best response to the Bush tax cut millionaires' obscene painting-buying spree of the '00s is to opt out and attempt to change the dialogue by cultivating a medium that cuts out middlemen, promotes transparency, and might actually lead to a redefinition of art. I'm talking about cyber-practice and self-publishing. The gallery still has a place in that--the intersection of the virtual and the actual is a fascinating place to be working.