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Monday, October 03, 2005

World Weary and Wondering

I'm back home in New York this week after three weeks away. During that time I had very limited access to the Internet and no access to English-language broadcast journalism. Apart from a couple issues of The International Herald Tribune, I didn't have access to English-language daily print media either.

Three weeks isn't really a long time, but during that period I came to feel horribly out of the art world loop: no Artnet or ArtInfo, only the briefest of moments to skim the Arts section of The New York Times on-line, and (aside from one or two of my favorites) no blogs. I missed the whole fall opening season in Chelsea, and I'm still grumbling about not being able to see Floating Island.

I had wanted to get out to see a few shows last Saturday in Williamsburg and Chelsea, but I wasn't able to make that happen. I did, though, have a chance to open my blog aggregator for the first time in weeks and spent some time trolling through the hundreds of posts I didn't see as they were published last month. I don't yet feel caught up with all that I missed last month, and I don't quite feel like I will be able to catch up fully.

It didn't used to be that way. I'm not thinking about the situation at some point in the distant past here. I'm remembering only as far back as the spring and summer of 2004.

Just a little more than a year ago, when I started this blog, there were probably less than 20 art blogs being published. Using an aggregator it was possible to read through the universe of art blogs once a week in a 30 minute sitting. Now, I hear, there are over 400 art-related blogs being published. I have a hard time keeping up with the good ones every week--let alone with the other 380 out there. Artnet is publishing must-read content just as frequently as ever--if not more so. ArtInfo now provides pointers to many additional items every day, doubling or tripling the number that ArtsJournal already highlights. And then there are the monthly glossies to skim through. It feels like there is an order of magnitude more information that needs to be managed on a daily basis today to remain an insider than there was only a year ago.

A similar explosion has happened on the gallery scene in Chelsea. Before I started the blog, I could pretty much cover Chelsea in a part of a day. (Granted, when I do a comprehensive gallery run through it really is that. I'm in and out of a gallery in less than a minute if I don't see something that interests me.) I can't do that any more. With new spaces and new buildings on whole new streets, I can't cover the neighborhood thoroughly in a day anymore.

All this makes me wonder two things. First, if I will ever get back ahead of the curve--especially with more overseas travel on the calendar. And, second, if there is really enough interest in contemporary art today to support all the galleries and sources of commentary that have emerged in just the last year.

I think the answer to the first is "yes," with time. I'm not so sure that the answer to the second is the same.

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