Criptic Critic Conscience and Known for it

Monday, April 28, 2014

Academic Artist Public Perception Fraud, argument no. 8 - Break through?

I respect Mark's take on my lecture, but I have to admit that what he wrote was not my intent at all. My point simply is that, there are artists that are paid by taxes to work at universities to make art, to make propoganda on behalf of Democracy really, on behalf and in demonstration of a willingness to "accept a role as critic and conscience of society" (NZ. Ed. Act 1989) and in doing so publicly, demonstrate a fuctioning of free speach in the sharing and defending of difficult and delictate issues, such as, the act of making 'art' paid by the public purse.
My condemnation of artists that work for universities in this manner is simply around the fact that they do not promote their work as paid for by the public, therefore they fail to "accept a role", that is the public have no idea that they exist in this way and in fact work quite hard to deny the role exists. It is my assertion that this fails to fulfil the legal standard that universites under the law are required to meet to be able to be called a university.
John Lake The Campus 2011 Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection Installation Adam Art Gallery 2012. Photo: Robert CrossBy Mark...
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  • Wells Tao

    Artists Discussion about major fraud perpetuated by Universities It matters who ... See More
  • Barry Thomas "critic and conscience of society" is what art is... so if either or both criteria are not met it is not art... it's charade, emperor/s new clothes... like a prison guard's uniform... tools and tactics in the machinery of the corporates that Universities have become... 'we' don't speak about the charade, the nakedness of the 'artists' whose fake art is as shallow as a wine label by Frizzell... compromised. Goya got it right but had to wait till he was long dead before he released his 'the world is watching' black etchings of war atrocities. All culture is trapped in its myths and the artists role is to shift the boundaries of these myths, create new ones... that's what 'critic and conscience' delivers... University 'artists' simply reinforce extant myths around their employer's identity.
  • Wells Tao That is not my point. But well worn cliche's that I am really not interested in.
  • Barry Thomas So the aging horse you keep flogging is... that artists paid to work and produce art for universities should wear a sign saying "I don't make art - I make what suits my employer to use to get more bums on seats, to pay my wage and avoid at all costs the lawful role of the university (and me and what I should be doing in my art) to further freedom of speech and act as critic and conscience of society"??? or more succinctly " I am a puppet artist for my boss" on a tee shirt?
    • Wells Tao They need to inform the public so that the public actually know they exist in that role. Everyone has strings attached to their work, some are more obvious than others. Are you a puppet for the radical left, am I? When i get paid by them, then it is more overt. But we can have many different financial bases behind our work, and each contract has it's own aims and limitations.

      The point is that there is no reason why artist who work for universities should be ashamed of that role or feel that they are unique in trying to articulate autonomous work within trying contexts. They could present their struggles to maintain their own autonomy in an institution context so that we the public can get a picture (one we are paying for) of where democratic principles are at while also providing evidence, of all the other principles (independence, scholarship etc) that a university needs to demonstrate to be called legally a university. Just as any one else is demanded to. i.e if you get a CNZ grant, or any kind of sponsorship there are strings attached to how you can behave.

      I've been sold this myth that artists that work as teachers, or are academics suffer from a dangerously poor self esteem, and should not be bothered with the dirty task that they are being paid for. That they are failed artists who have not made it on their own and therefore are absolved from the important and difficult role that is demanded of them in their job by the law. This is ridiculous white rich privileged that needs to end. It is an enormous honor to be paid to make art by the state, (if you believe in democratic ideals and want to work for them) one that a present generation of artists have in my opinion made themselves very comfortable on, while ignoring the impact on our communities their lack of transparent action has made.
    • Wells Tao
  • Illya Tachyon McLellan An artist in residence at a university in my opinion has the upper hand. The university is in thrall to them and what they devise to a large degree (perhaps until they cause too much offence). The shame would be if an artist was given a residency and then proceeded to "conform" to a set of idea's. People are not as robotic as we suspect them to be a lot of the time though. I daresay a lot of artists in residence around the world are well aware they could be seen as puppets and would in fact go the other way so as to dissuade the notion.
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    • Wells Tao the idea that art work has to be one thing or the other, radical, or conservative, idealistic or commercial is not interesting to me, i am not concerned with the question what is art. I am interested in if everything is art, what is it the art of? If we ask this question, the limitations/ constraints of any art work or artist are important ingredients in the work. The financial/ economic structure behind any work should I feel be considered the cultural foundation of that work.
    • Catherine Cocker thats an interesting comment Tao and you know i understand and agree with that comment though it also has adverse implications placing a lot of emphasis on finances, and not a lot on the relationships between the people involved (and no im not talking about relational aesthetics!)
    • Wells Tao I don't think that is true, Catherine. In my experience there is a lot of cultural snobbery around those whose first question of a work of art is how much did it cost, or how long did it take to make. In my experience these are simply bridging questions, beginnings, from one cultural perspective to another. And are not the final conclusion despite the propaganda put out be the art industry that enjoys such a focus on price tag.
    • Illya Tachyon McLellan I could write an essay on that comment, a long boring one. Well, hopefully not too boring. Is art for arts sake or for the sake of ego? Or another's ego? Or to free oneself from ego? If an artist subverts a patron through an artwork then they are definitely affected by the financial/economic structure behind it in producing their art. Though the thought or inspiration gleaned from that artwork by others does not necessarily provoke any idea of what the financial and economic situation was. It has a face value that is separate from the background of it.
    • Wells Tao Whew! That's a little hard to follow Illya, can you break it down for me?
    • Catherine Cocker you are speaking primarily about dealer galleries ?
    • Catherine Cocker or do you see that as across board
    • Catherine Cocker and im not stupid enough to know that art isnt about money, it definitely isnt for many artists though lol
    • Illya Tachyon McLellan I found the same with your initial reply bro. It is one of those places where a lot of ideas and opinions crossover and can create a great deal of confusion I suppose. When you start to talk about the reason or basis for an artwork there are so many factors to consider. The main thing I meant with the last comment is that art has a face to it in a lot of cases. That which is seen first of all. Then the initial reaction of wonder, disgust or disinterest. Then comes the consideration, which generally provokes the question, "How long did it take to make, how much did it cost?"
    • Wells Tao I hopefully am not talking about the "reason or basis for an artwork", but talking instead of the context in which a work is received.
    • Illya Tachyon McLellan Ok, it was just when you mentioned the cultural foundation of an artwork being related to an economic/financial structure that I started thinking of "reason or basis" rather than the context it is/was received. I think I get what you are driving at now. Nice discussion. Thought provoking.
    • Wells Tao I think the financial structure of cultural production is a reflection of held values. It's not as simple as more money more value, as of course you can't buy love etc etc.. so the absence of money so to speak could say as much as its presence. (more in my opinion!!! volunteer art activists UNITE!! )
    • Catherine Cocker and they are inseparable, context and reason,i know personally when i have received private sponsorship for various things i have thought about who i am receiving financial support from ( in depth )
    • Wells Tao Yes hence the odd guilty weight professed by art academics when they present themselves as independent artists, and you 'out' them as paid employees...
    • Catherine Cocker i see now what you mean
    • Wells Tao that would be amazing
    • Catherine Cocker the world of art has many guises
    • Wells Tao Yes, When we did the Beneficiary's Office, I was made aware by brute force that my low status as a welfare receiver meant that when I made art paid for by the public, the ministry felt entitled to punish me for doing so while maintaining that they were simply carrying out what the public demanded. This sense of entitlement even had them overtly lying and breaking the law to hurt us. All I had to do is look across the fence to see the high status Art academic, also being paid by the public to make art, but with no one asking them to be accountable to anything to wonder if it's time to blow the whistle on this racket/scam.
    • Wells Tao
  • István Ping Clover Your point seems very straightforward and I think its a good one.
  • Luke Wood "there are artists that are paid by taxes to work at universities to make art" – optimistic man! In my experience making ART never even comes up. Teaching, research (verifiable/justifiable), and admin... that's the job description. Ain't no ART involved.
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    • Wells Tao Hi Luke thanks for participating. So your mag National Grid for example, that has no relationship to your employment? And/or is it recognized as legitimate 'moonlighting' ?
    • Luke Wood Actually that's an interesting story... Jonty and I started TNG almost 10 years ago now, and really purely because there was nowhere in NZ that'd publish the kind of writing on graphic design that we wanted to read. Following that we got nothing but endless shit from the two universities we were involved with because, since it wasn't a 'peer reviewed' academic journal, the expectation was that it wouldn't score in the PBRF. This went on for roughly 7 years, us constantly being told it was no good to the university and useless to us in terms of PBRF, until eventually (and I only really realize this in hindsight) we were worn down, and all but gave up the whole project just prior to the last PBRF round. And then guess what? It fucking did score! Really well. So fuck 'em, I'm pretty dark on that right now.
    • Luke Wood I take your point though, and largely agree, I'm just wanting to point out that – from my perspective, and let's not think Canterbury is 'normal' here – that any design work I do these days is done in the evenings and weekends. The weight of administration has increased ten fold since I've been doing the academic thing. The early days, yes it was amazing. Now the truth is, here anyway, the 'working week' is filled by teaching and admin.
    • Wells Tao I agree that the increase in administration has been disastrous for teaching across all of education. That has certainly been my experience and a regular complaint from those in the profession that I know that actually use to enjoy teaching.

      Those in design departments in Universities generally in my experience have a better or clearer grasp of the differences between the "inside" and 'outside' work that they do, especially given that in terms of industrial design there is a great deal at stake in terms of who owns the IP.

      I hear your struggle to have your work recognized by the university, and that is a great achievement that obviously took to long. But now that the work is officially recognized as part of your job, will it be used to promote your role as University staff?
    • Luke Wood So that's the weird part, now that it did actually do quite well under the PBRF no one wants to talk about PBRF anymore! At least not at Canterbury at the moment it seems. And anyway I'm not kidding about it having killed the project. Jonty and I have only just recently talked about maybe getting it up and running again, and yeah I guess given that it earns some decent money for the department I'd expect them now to support it – probably not financially, since that ain't happening for a while at Canterbury, but at least they would stop threatening to fire us every other month if we didn't go and do a talk at some two-bit conference.
    • Luke Wood Yeah design's definitely a bit different too... it's practically impossible for 'graphic design' as it is to score PBRF, so we rely on doing other things – writing, getting shit published, talking at conferences, and, now and then, exhibiting. Which of course is all stuff that is quite distinct to our practices as designers. So for us at least 'research' and practice do still tend to be different things (in the eyes of the university)
    • Wells Tao Ok, Luke, If the work (the Magazine National Grid) is officially recognized as part of your job by the University, (where you work) will you use the work to promote your role as a member of the University staff?
    • Luke Wood Promote my role as a member of the university staff... what do you mean exactly?
    • Wells Tao "My condemnation of artists that work for universities in this manner is simply around the fact that they do not promote their work as paid for by the public, therefore they fail to "accept a role", that is the public have no idea that they exist in this way "
    • Wells Tao There is a 20 reply comment stream above that goes into some detail of what I'm asserting.
    • Luke Wood Oh so you mean would I somehow then publicize the fact (externally) that the publication was supported by the university? Yeah I see your point. This has come up for us recently actually – a lecturer at Canterbury had an exhibition and a certain someone from management went to this exhibition. The 'manager' then bailed up the 'artist' about why there was no Canterbury University logo on the wall with the general signage and whatnot. Is this what you're advocating for? Sure that seems fine/appropriate to me where the university HAS actually supported the person to make the work. Neither AUT or Canterbury really supported The National Grid... actually Canterbury did for the first issue (which it says in inside it) but then when the implications of PBRF became clear they didn't want me doing it anymore. It was funded by CNZ from then on until issue #8 which was funded by WINTEC/RAMP Gallery. All of that was stated very clearly in each issue. Although, to be honest, I don't think I'm a very good example for you here am I?
    • Wells Tao I appreciated that there is a definite line (obscured) between art work that the university claims some entitlement of and that which it does not. My point is directed at that which the university clearly does have a stake in . That work in my opinion a logo is cop out, and no where near enough if the intent is actually to inform the public that there is a "role" being played here, one that we are entitled to see being carried out. Not obscured.
    • Luke Wood So how would you like to see it?
    • Wells Tao If the work that the university claims some entitlement of is funded as 'research' or scholarship' couldn't it be promoted as such. The Public need to be educated that such work exists.
    • Wells Tao As it is valuable pro democracy, pro free speach work that they are paying for
    • Luke Wood Sure I totally agree
    • Wells Tao You are the first 'employee' of a university to say that to me
    • Luke Wood My point was simply that not all the work 'we' (academics) do IS supported by the uni
    • Luke Wood But yeah I totally agree that work that is supported should be defined as such
    • Wells Tao Sure, but the point is now, will you do that?
    • Wells Tao not just define, but promote, so that a 'role' can be identified by the uninitiated as being carried out?
    • Luke Wood Sure, I have no problem with that at all
    • Luke Wood I'd be really happy to promote my own role at the uni very publicly wherein the uni did actually support what I did.
    • Luke Wood But yeah I guess 'artists' might have a more of a problem with this than I do as a designer... I don't know?
    • Wells Tao I guess potentially I would see that the university might have a problem with it. If you gain public attention for your work on behalf of them, that could make you more powerful as an employee.
    • Luke Wood Sounds great!
    • Wells Tao It certainly was true when we went "public" with the Beneficiary's Office, we were attacked by the Ministry of Social Welfare as we were their 'employees' who were suppose to shut up out of fear of losing our 'employment". We took them to court and won, but were worn out.
    • Wells Tao and our grand narrative was lost in legal mumbo jumbo, they tied our victory in knots. I guess I can't help imagine what it would have been like if we had had a single salary amongst us, to help fund our democratic participation. We were all so fucking poor that it was very difficult not to feel the pangs of desperation, how am I going to eat, sleep, get through the week, while also attempting to be articulate a higher ideal. Hence looking "across the fence" at those supposedly 'paid to make art' and wondering,....
    • Wells Tao By going public we became very powerful, the ministry had to break the law to punish us, And if we had had more support we could have gone all the way to the high court and challenged some of the ridiculous laws that been implemented in the vacuum of no opposition.

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