Like many, I was inspired to read Allan Gregg’s speech “The Assault on Reason” that outlined and warned us of the similarities to our present day conservative government and the world in George Orwell’s book 1984. This argument was remarkable, not because of what it said but who said – Gregg is a well known conservative. It is not exactly a secret in Canada that science, the environment and social compassion are under a sustained and deliberate assault from a really mean group of bullies who are self-absorbed, entitled and placing their interests above all else, even to the point that they inevitably will do more harm to our world than good.
This very much reminded me of your typical artist.
Have you ever heard the sentiment “Inside every artist is a dictator”?
Ok, I know, artists are typically left leaning intellectual types who fight for free speech, social justice and all kinds of good things. That can certainly be true but as I’ve pointed out before, there are very scary people in involved in arts administration, and throughout the non-profit and charitable sector. A dictator can come from the left, right or centre – that is essential, in my opinion, to understanding the Orwellian potential in our selves and those around us. Perhaps with the best of intentions, sincere efforts to improve the world is what leads to a world like 1984 – it is our conviction that we are fighting the good fight that blinds us to this fact. I think Gregg made this point, among many good points, and I totally agree – and this very much reminds me of the mindset of artists.
Local artists would, if they could, be the headlining part of all group exhibits and occupy all of the wall space in every coffee shop and restaurant they are aware of. They would be granted a solo exhibit at every gallery in their home town every year forever and be courted by other galleries near and far.
If they could, they would crush their critics and see galleries who have turned them down wither and die in humiliation. They would, if they could, get all of the public funds for all the public projects.
Local artists ostracize competing local artists – they will not mention, recommend or promote you. Local artists would if they could control this information.
They don’t share money – or proceeds from sales. You can help get them an exhibit, but they won’t help you.
They’ll sit on every gallery committee they can if they that got them exhibits.
They are also above deadlines and all that hubbub – they will bring in the work to a group exhibit whenever it damn well suits them. And they’ll take their work back whenever they damn well please.
They won’t volunteer to help with events – but they contribute meaningfully by criticizing anything they don’t immediately like.
In short, they would re-write art history. And god help you if you misspell their name on anything.
Also Orwellian of all is when a blogger, critic or journalist writes something about their work that they don’t agree with – or worse they write nothing at all. They want to change this, and perhaps this fuels their need to control a world that comes in variety of standard canvas sizes.
And the most controlling, Orwellian aspect of local artists – DO NOT TAKE A PHOTO OF THEIR WORK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Their work is so original, and so special, the internets will steal it and sweat shops in third world countries will reproduce it and various copies will appear in gallery gift shops in famous galleries and museums around the world, and the local artist will got none of the credit and profits they deserve.
Of course, the only thing more fearsome and controlling than a local artist is a regional curator. But that’s another post…