January 15, 2017

100 Secrets of the Art World: A Fancy Book Night at Soho-Haus



I didn’t really go out this week so I have to rely on what other people told me about the art world. No worries, I got you some exclusive, first-hand information about a high-end book presentation at Soho-House! Start licking your fingers already:

We’re talking the book presentation of 100 Secrets of the Art World by Thomas Girst and Magnus Resch. FYI: Girst also wrote about the management of art galleries in a book with a glossy pink cover. Just saying that sometimes the package says it all.

Soho-House seems to be a perfect location for secrets of the art world. Don’t we all wanna become a member just to meet the art world intimately in its underwear at the Soho gym lockers? Oh yeah, we do. 

I don’t know if all the art celebrities of the book were present but I know for sure that Berlin Bienniale-boss Gabriele Horn was and she even went on stage to say something, which, according to my informant, she shouldn’t have done. You see, Girst and Resch were cracking jokes on stage as if they were hosting a Hollywood gala. It wasn't the right setting for Horn's credibility. 

Girst and Resch were boasting about their big success in New York. Yet in Berlin, by the end of the evening they sold only one third out of a total of 100 books. The salespersons didn’t know if they had to be sad because of the bad sales or happy because Berlin turns out to be a lot smarter than New York. 

You see, 100 Secrets of the Art World doesn’t reveal any personal art secrets. One would think people start with themselves, but then they don’t.  

They also don’t tell somebody else’s secret. Nobody talks out of school these days.

The book doesn’t even make it to the open secrets of the art world. 

Not even little secrets of some sort...

I can understand your confusion - what’s left? 

Nothing. I mean, Nicolas Berggruen, presented in the book as a billionaire collector, philantropist and investor, recommends to “experience and buy art with your eyes.” You can only hit your head and say “duh” to that one. 

There are of course always a few souls who try very very hard to be “honest” and come up with something “real”. As expected Isabelle Graw, director of Texte zur Kunst, did so, revealing that because of social media no secrets seems to be left in the art world, except for the hidden fears behind those happy faces - the fear of not succeeding, of losing social position. Oh, Isabelle, just stop trying! 

Best answer was by Kaspar König, who made a humorous word play on what Bill Shankly said about football: “Some people believe art is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” 

January 8, 2017

2017 news: The Year of the Cock



Artist H. emailed me a happy new year and informed me it’s the year of the cock. 

H. is the one who threw the delicious Tchaikovsky Pickle Surprise Party. He is also a photographer. Photographers are mostly good cooks, so artist P. sitting next to me at the dinner table told me.

The year of the cock is going to be good for business. There is a psychology of money, this gallerist J. told artist C. who then told me. 6000, for instance, sounds less than 5000.

J. also told C. that you have to give the buyers the idea that they are buying cheaply what is worth much more.

While making art, so J. advised C., try not too much to turn it  into art. 

A. told me there is a phase in each artist’s career in which you are cutting your own fingers. 

There is a disease artists can suffer from, so P., the same one who was sitting next to me at the dinner table: it’s called “aesthetic fatigue”.

Beauty comes from the inside, but most people get stuck on appearances. That’s probably why, so artist W. was thinking, Joseph Beuys wrapped a grand piano in felt: to mess up aesthetic perception.

Arial is not a good font for reading long texts, editor J. informed me. The text you’re reading now is in that Arial font so I'm gonna keep it short. 

3D printing sounds futuristic until you discover it takes 10 hours to print an object of 30x30x8 cm. 

If you make art that runs with a particular technology, your art is bound to be dated in the near future. “My work becoming dated! What a trip!”, so the artist who collages cat videos on Youtube. 

December 31, 2016

End of the Year Tales: Women and the Scarcity Economy of Love



Reading Susan Sontag’s journals from the early 1970s I skip the part that is about her unfortunate love with C. While leafing through the pages, there is one sentence, though, that sticks: “Scarcity economy of love”, written in the margins of the diary. 

We are standing in front of the shop window of the bookstore in Reichenbergstraße. I see Roland Barthes’ A Lover's Discourse, which inspired my 2016 resolution for the arts. A few more books about love are on display. “How surprising!”, I say. “It’s Christmas,” the artist responds with a bit of sarcasm in her voice. 

A female art person listening to a male art person who does all the talking: “I abstrahise,” she says. 

Two things I watched this year, which are remarkable in their turning around of roles for women. I mean, the women are strong and powerful, and not dependent on men. The first one was the movie Ghostbusters, the other one is the series The Catch. “Are you okay?” a guy asks private detective Alice Vaughan after some dangerous action. “Would you ask me the same if I were a man?” she replies. 

It wasn’t something that I gave much thought when it happened, but I was reminded of it this week. When I was 27, I applied for a Fulbright to go to the United States as a post-doc fellow. Walking into the interview, looking great with my platina blond hair, the first thing a man of the jury says is that they are not sending people to the US to go on a vacation. 

S from the bookstore tells me he doesn’t like Kirchner. In fact, he thinks Kirchner’s paintings are straight-down ugly. I laugh, it’s funny to hear somebody call shit what has been canonized, especially when it’s male.  

I have this French medieval poem I know from school, it’s about youth and basically it says; mignonne [female], enjoy your flower before it withers. I like reciting it, and I did so while drinking jenever with my Berlin friend S in Antwerp. S didn’t agree with the message of the poem, saying that in Japanese there is the concept of wabi sabi, which means the beauty of imperfection, of wrinkles, of things that are unfinished - a beauty you can find in a broken pot. 

S always mixes up the gender when he’s talking, which can be really confusing because you thought you were talking about a certain person but then he’s switching the “he” and “she” all the time. He explained to me that in Chinese spoken language there is no male or female, also no boyfriend or girlfriend. I think English and German language should catch up on that, it’s more 21st century.