Toronto 2016 Report
We had a great time speaking to a group of art students in the “Professional Practice” class at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada last weekend. Some were reported to be playing a video game or what-not throughout the talk, (can’t blame them!) but there were quite a few enthusiastic students who asked engaging questions, and we felt better about the future of the “artworld” (; These kids are super lucky to have a progressive professor invite RFAOH to discuss a reality and alternative approaches to our contemporary time in the arts. (When we were in school, the artists who came to talk were often “too successful”^^) In bringing our own perspective to these young artists on how or what it means to work in this domain given our bizarre/daunting times, we were reminded of this point made by Ben Davis in a recent article in artnet news:
“…some soul-searching assessment of the limits of our own gestures, and some clear-eyed analysis of what rhetoric is effective and what is not, is going to be very, very important in the years to come. It will not be enough to languish in mythological beliefs about art’s value as a humanistic salve, or even to fly the flag for “political art” as a genre. We have to debate strategy.”
Artists have never had it easy at any time in history, but it surely feels like now is a peculiar time to be practicing art, within an abyss of information and “democratic” access to cultural capital (but not to real capital), where, once again, “everyone is an artist”. Our old friend and a known neon artist (but retired from the “artworld”, he claims) told us that he’s now often commissioned by art galleries to make a piece for their clients who have a “great idea” for a neon work but do not know how to make it or where to go to have it made. So the gallery who is in the know asks him to make it and sells it to these people, and our friend goes to hang “their art” at their home without his name attached. Are we too naive to be stunned by this? Even though nothing like New York or London, Toronto is a big enough city with a big enough art community to offer these bizarre stories (a hip restaurant brazenly ripping off an artist’s work that everyone knows yet no apology or compensation in court; a major public gallery deleting a small artist’s online project to protect their “brand”) — all are real inspirations for RFAOH, often more so than art exhibitions.
But once again, the highlight of our presentation visit was the chance to meet with one of our current residents Joyce Lau at a local brewery (how counterintuitive is it?), and to visit our ex-resident Ryan Ringer‘s hiatus project Grey Tiger! Unfortunately Ryan was too busy working the cafe to come and share his experiences at our talk, but we were very happy to see him and his project in person. (Sorry we forgot to take photos of his storefront but he’s got great drinks!)
We hope that 2017 will continue to bring more of these opportunities to gather the real people from our virtual community together. Please send any request for a visit our way!