I think I am a lot more radical than most of the artists in these networks. I believe the system is not working to encourage visual arts and that commercial galleries and collectors are not the way to go. I believe that artists networks have been crucial to the development in modern art and that commercialized offshoots such as galleries and museums feed off of genuine creativity and innovation . In most cases, when friends or acquaintances became "successful" artists their work and presence vanished from the art community that gestated it and supported it
What is good for musicians is not necessarily good for visual artists. Visual Artists, of which I am one, need special places to create and show work. If museums and commercial galleries are too invested in capitalism, fashion and fetishized objects, what other models can work? I am finishing my doctorate and my dissertation is based on these problems and challenges. Personally I have had 50 solo exhibitions and curated almost as many, some extolled by critics and scholars. I have never had a happy relationship with a commercial gallery. There are alternatives. Networks on the web have the possibility of organizing and introducing artists to each other. Many of these ning groups that we belong to and I am posting on are good examples. I am a principal of cultureinside.com, based in Luxembourg. My partners and I are creating exhibitions and museums on the web that will create exhibits, connect to spaces, and support artists. Once artists are introduced to each other , anything can happen. All important developments in modern art history were those of artist networks and groups. Commercial galleries invariably follow where artists were treading for some time. Whether is was salons, clubs, autonomous zones such as happenings, co-ops, or graffiti or artworker crews. Art should not go legitimate. The Whitney Museum in New York began as an artist's club and lasted for over 15 years that way. The abstract expressionists and New York School artists formed co-ops in the 40's and 50's, before Peggy Guggenheim.
The Beats engendered an egalitarian, creative environment. The Six Gallery in San Francisco , formed by young artists, was where Allan Ginsberg first read Howl. The Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich founded by Hugo Ball and Emily Hennings, was an exhibition and performance space. Tristan Tzara, one of the founders, played chess with Lenin during the day. This could be a very long piece but what I want to do is make a list of books that I find to be very important on these topics. Most of them are available, some for free on the web
1. T.A.Z and Immediatism, two books by Hakim Bey, a pen name of Peter Lamborn Wilson
He says that revolutions never work. The ownership and defence of space are part of the problem.
Autonomous zones are parties, fairs, projects, that can melt away rather become targets or victims of power and oppression. In Immediatism he advocates close working groups of artists forming cabals, secret societies, tongs, sewing circles, quilting bees, and other forms of artistic expression that can not be co-opted. His works are in bookstores or free on the web
2.Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy, Jeff Ferrell
Dr. Ferrell writes how Space in America is being organized for social control and how artists have historically confronted these forces. Written from an Anarchist perspective
3. Martin Buber. There are a lot of books on Buber. Being in the world we are constantly in conversations with the world and each other. This dialog with anyone creates respect and genuine communications. It feels good. Orders, curses, didactic monologs, one way communications feel another way , for the sender or the receiver. Racism, objectification, sexism, classism are all these kinds of communications.
4. Guy Debord , Society of the Spectacle. Debord postulated, could be accounted for by the invasive forces of the 'spectacle' - "a social relation between people that is mediated by images (1) The spectacle is the modern media dream that we participate in. Changing situations, creating spaces, disrupting the flow of the media might be a way of changing those relations. He recanted and tried to disregard art, but the original analysis is very powerful.
Pierre Levy Collective Intelligence. How do we know ourselves? Levy shows that our name, family name (our lineage or tribe,) Home address ( where we live), Our occupation, phone number, and now email address place us in a world. The world of cyberspace is as real as any other and it will change our identities, both personal and national. I think it is one of the best analyses about the change that is occurring in our lives on the web.
There are others but I am tired and will write more tomorrow. I think the creation of art exhibitions and groups of artists forming networks based on mutuality is the way to go. I think it is possible to create networks on the web and real exhibitions that form as a byproduct of that mutuality. I did a study , that I will post about a series of exhibitions that I organized from 2003 to 2004 callled Art Against War. An exhibition that began on the web and moved into 8 galleries and museums around the world solely on viral interchange and artist communications