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Thursday, August 05, 2004

NYFA Quarterly on the Mega-Exhibition

The summer issue of NYFA Quarterly, the publication of the New York Foundation for the Arts, contains an article on the "mega-exhibition" by Martha Schwendener. She uses the recent New York based mega-shows Open House: Working in Brooklyn and the Whitney Biennial as the basis for the article.

I tend toward love (more than toward hate) when it comes to the mega-exhibition of recent work. Sure these exhibitions can be tedious. But the love part I feel is tied to the fact that they usually introduce me to a few artists with whom I'm not familiar but whose work I begin to appreciate. With the Whitney Biennial this year it was Dario Robleto and Amy Cutler. With Open House it was Bill Scanga, Su-En Wong, and E.V. Day. I even found a couple gems recently at the Water Show in Red Hook.

Schwendener's article, however, tends to lean more toward the hate side of the love-hate dichotomy. That's OK. I can respect someone whose opinion differs from mine. And I can even recommend that people read her article. (So follow the link above and take a look at it.)

But after you've read her piece, please tell me what the heck she is doing in her penultimate paragraph. She can't really think she's doing Artists Space (an alternative gallery) a service by making an argument from analogy that turns them into the Al Qaeda of the contemporary New York art world. Can she?

Now, NYFA is a great organization, and NYFA Quarterly is a solid publication. But, my goodness. Just because someone has contributed to Artforum doesn't mean that her work doesn't need an editor to read it before it gets sent off to the printer.

Or, maybe, this situation should be used as a cautionary tale. Arts editors, take note. If a contributor lists Artforum in her author's bio, edit the piece especially closely.

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