02 May 2006

Keeping it simple

An arts group called wooloo is currently sponsoring a fun little project going on this week in New York City. 10 non-American artists are competing for a visa. The rules? They have to live in a gallery for a week, during which they are not allowed to leave. In the gallery they have access to nothing other than paper and pens (and they get a place to sleep and three meals a day). During the week they are expected to make art, and at the end of the week a couple of wooloo-ers will judge what they've done. The lucky winner will receive a three-year artist visa to stay in the US.

I love it, and I'll try to explain why. First, I love simple art. Sure, Damien Hirst's pickled sharks are cool in ways that ought to make anyone wish they too could get millions for pickling sharks. And I can't get enough of artists who find new mediums of expression. But there is something refreshing about a bunch of artists who (for whatever reason) are going back to something very basic (pen and paper!). Especially in contemporary art, which is overrun with people trying to stand out and be different, the simplicity of this project is a bit startling. I wonder how many of them will actually draw. I wonder how many will beg the gallery's visitors to bring them other things (which is allowed and even encouraged).

getting a visa to stay is a very relevant reward for a foreigner and an artist. I like that this project acknowledges how much these artists depend on the art establishment. Their lives (for a week at least) are both literally and figuratively right there in the gallery. It emphasizes how much power the art establishment has over everything else these artists might do. In this case, their connection with the exhibition will determine a significant part of their future. By extension, it acknowledges that success in art is nothing more than succeeding with a few well-placed people.

I can't wait to find out who wins.


Anonymous said...

It is good to see that art is the same as other professions, succeeding with a few well placed people. Will they be likely to have a showing of all the art produced by these individuals at the end of the project? Grandpa Dan

suz said...

are there rules about what kind of art they can make- ie, could you make a sculpture out of the paper and pens? or are they only limited to drawing?