Zero tolerance

September 10th, 2012 | Posted by Alistair in art - (Comments Off)

Another week, another list of artist opportunities that needs to do their homework (the offender this time is Axis), instead of thoughtlessly sending out and tacitly promoting a link that leads artists into this maelstrom of horrendous design, vague promises and demands for money:


Galeria Zero have all the warning signs of a venture that no credible, sensible or professional artist should go anywhere near. They also apparently operate as [sic] and, this latter in a blatantly misleading riding-on-the-Olympic-coat-tails kind of way: where are the LOCOG brand enforcement police when we need them? Red alert when we see a so-called opportunity for artists that has:

  • Terrible, sloppy design, which may be the reason for vital information being hidden away in illogical places. Or maybe they don’t want you knowing any vital information? You decide. It’s absolutely certain that no reputable gallery has link bait pages like this one.
  • No names, no provenance, no connections to credible artists, galleries or professional organisations of any kind. Just vague, generic snapshots of anonymous white spaces that could be anywhere or not even related. A bare address in Amsterdam. They’ve actually paid for a masking service on their WhoIs internet registration records so nobody can track them down too easily. Again, there are sometimes good privacy reasons for doing so but in this kind of context one would not be unjustified in fearing the worst. You should always be able to find out who you’re dealing with and what they’ve done before.
  • Broken English, even in the sections that are supposed to be about London. Not being very good at English isn’t a crime, of course, but it does seem to be a hallmark of these scammy, spammy sites.
  • Tantalising, exotic locations that an artist might reasonably want to visit and put on their CV. And Ghent. Bad snapshot photography of sparsely attended gallery spaces that could be anywhere, or indeed nothing to do with the current opportunities on offer.
  • Vague, non-committal application process that isn’t even clear about what one is applying for, what the decision making process consists of, and what kind of dialogue or support one can expect whether selected or not. And of course no clear or upfront mention of what exactly it will cost you, or even that it will cost you anything at all, apart from this skeletal page that mentions sums of “€500-€1500″. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said this, but I’ll say it again: a professional relationship between a gallery and an artist does not involve the artist paying to exhibit their own work. You should be paid, not paying.

Artists, please do yourself and all of your colleagues or peers a favour by not putting money in the bank for these people. They won’t get you anywhere and no professional in the arts has any respect for them, nor for anybody who deals with them. And organisations who send out opportunity listings to artists, I know that your information is compiled in good faith from information that’s made available to you… but it only took me a few minutes to arrive at the opinion that GZ are probably not legit. I’m tired of seeing these dodgy businesses being promoted to artists by people who claim to have our interests at heart. Do your homework, please, for the sake of the artists you’re meant to be serving. At least look at the links you’re sending out before you actually click the mouse to send them.


Too many DSLRs

September 5th, 2012 | Posted by Alistair in art - (Comments Off)

See many other catastrophes like this cloud-humping  sky baby, by people with the cheek or the lack of self-awareness to market themselves as professional photographers at, aesthetically blind “professional” design at, and– most egregious of all– Photoshop Disasters that were usually commissioned, perpetrated and signed off by a whole series of well-paid, salaried people who should probably all be sacked to make way for somebody more competent, better trained and more intelligent.

All these sites highlight the race to the bottom in terms of skills, craft or genuine professionalism, the lazy corner-cutting, and the  “everyone’s an expert” syndrome that are all slowly but surely smothering the professional practices and livelihoods of genuinely talented artists, photographers and designers.

The open Open

July 18th, 2012 | Posted by Alistair in art | exhibition - (2 Comments)

We’ve talked a lot here on the site and in the real world with artists and arts professionals about competitions, pay-to-play “opportunities” and so on. Now myself and our David have agreed to be selectors for the Zeitgeist Open 2012 in the hope of showing there’s a way to run these things fairly, ethically, without ripping anybody off or profiteering, and keeping artists where they should be in the arts– at the centre. In brief (from the ZAP site):

  1. There will be no pre-selection, all works will be seen by all the judges
  2. The work received will remain anonymous throughout the judging process
  3. Our judges are artists, not art oligarchs or celebrities
  4. ZAP values all the artists we work with and continues to build relationships with them during and after shows
  5. At least 10 artists from The Zeitgeist Open will be selected for our next ZAP group exhibition: Discernible in Spring 2013
  6. The ZAP philiosophy is about: Creating opportunities for ambitious artists, creating new networks and bringing new audiences – curators, gallerists, collectors, the general public – to artists
  7. Submission fees have been kept to an absolute minimum – £15 or £12 for ZAP / DIY Educate Members – to make it accessible as possible.

But what’s really worth checking out, I think– even if you don’t intend to enter– is the statements and application materials you can download from the same page I just linked to (or below). David and I have consulted on and contributed to these documents, and I think they do a great job of doing what every fair, symmetrical transaction between commissioner/gallery/selector and artist should be: laying out what everyone on both sides has the right to expect, to get or not get. The selectors will be getting a small fee and travel expenses for a day of work on selecting the submissions. Instead of making ourselves scarce like your traditional gatekeepers, we’ll also be attending the opening of the exhibition in the autumn so you can talk to us directly about what we selected, what we didn’t, and why.

Art competitions and open submission calls can be genuine opportunities that help artists. They don’t have to be dodgy.


Artists Walk & Talk 20 July 2012 Orford Ness

July 17th, 2012 | Posted by Elaine in art | event - (Comments Off)

Jane and Louise Wilson

‘Blind Landing’ Walk & Talk
Friday 20 July 2-4pm

Artists Jane and Louise Wilson have created a series of commissions for Untrue Island, a project on Orford Ness initiated and developed by Commissions East and the National Trust. A combination of sculpture, musical composition, narration and the real-time sounds of Orford Ness capture the spirit of this constantly changing, evocative and remote location.

‘Blind Landing’ is Jane and Louise’s response. It refers to the Blind Landing Experimental Unit that was operational during the Cold War period and comprises a series of sculptures inspired by a yardstick measure once employed in the film industry as a measure for scale in the building of film sets.

Jane & Louise will be leading an artists ‘Walk & Talk’ around the installations on The Ness for local artists on Friday 20 July from 2-4pm.

This is a free event but places are extremely limited due to site access restrictions and booking is essential. For more information and to secure a place please call Elaine Tribley on 07775 744276 or email

Actual new models as opposed to just saying it’s a new model…

June 26th, 2012 | Posted by admin in art | press - (Comments Off)


Of course actions speak louder than words (especially when we consider the furore here over companies like Debut Contemporary and the way artists who’ve worked with them are telling us they’ve been treated when they’re the ones paying) so we’ll wait to see what kinds of grants are made, to whom and what becomes of the projects supported… but a cautious welcome is due to at least the ideas and the ethos behind The Creator’s’ Trust. From a Guardian article posted today:

“People from the creative industries put money into a central pot. Every month, funds from this pot are distributed to creators in the UK and in the developing world – they set aside a little over 10% of the pot for running costs. They don’t exploit people or control their creative output. They merely provide the means to help them develop and progress. All they ask is that if a Creators’ Trust funded project results in financial profit, the beneficiaries put some money back in the pot to give someone else a chance… There is an application procedure but you can’t apply on behalf of yourself. The Creators’ Trust is about making a name for someone else, so applications are more like recommendations from someone who is passionate about an emerging talent. Recipients of funding must be pursuing, training or professionally involved in the arts, media or fashion industries.”

The idea of peer or colleague recommendation instead of people applying on their own behalf is a particularly interesting one. Although in practice it may be open to abuse, nepotism and “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”, in theory it could also be a very good way to encourage peer support and building communities of professional equals that bypass most of the usual decision makers. (more…)

Informative but depressing article in the New York Times about the fear (there’s that horrible word again) art experts have about admitting they think a valuable art work is not what it seems to be. From Patricia Cohen’s text:

“As spectacular sums flow through the art market and an expert verdict can make or destroy a fortune, several high-profile legal cases have pushed scholars to censor themselves for fear of becoming entangled in lawsuits.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and the Noguchi Museum have all stopped authenticating works to avoid litigation. In January the Courtauld Institute of Art in London cited “the possibility of legal action” when it canceled a forum discussing a controversial set of some 600 drawings attributed to Francis Bacon. And the leading experts on Degas have avoided publicly saying whether 74 plasters attributed to him are a stupendous new find or an elaborate hoax.”

They’ve stopped authenticating works to avoid litigation? This must be just what forgers or owners of fake works want to hear… but the art business is and always has been a fundamentally dodgy business anyway. Read the full article:

Read more about experts and fakes on our site:

Pirate objects

If you hang fake paintings in a museum for long enough, they become real

F for Fake


The Other Art Fair

May 11th, 2012 | Posted by Alistair in art | blog - (Comments Off)

Cross-posted from my own blog because it’s relevant to Market Project, you know the drill.

Market Project, Aid & Abet at the next a-n AIRTIME event

May 11th, 2012 | Posted by admin in art | event | notice - (Comments Off)

Members of Market Project will be at a-n’s latest AIRTIME networking and advice session, which takes place at Aid & Abet in Cambridge on Thursday 17th May, 3-5pm. Come and say hello, ask us about working as an artist-led research group over the past two years and our plans for the next two, our careers as professional artists, our dealings with the art world, why flaccid genitalia or brown paintings are commercial suicide, or anything else that’s on your mind. Free to a-n subscribers, but you need to book a place.

Tainted Love

May 7th, 2012 | Posted by Annabel in art | exhibition - (Comments Off)

Annabel Dover’s Tainted Love hero is Anna Atkins, a Victorian botanist and devoted daughter of the scientist JG Children. Atkins made over 200 drawings for her fathers translation of Lamarck’s Genera of Shells and went on to use the Cyanotype method she had learnt from royal astronomer Thomas Herschel to document the flora of her native Kent. Unfortunately Atkins work like that of so many Victorian women was undervalued in favour of a male relative. Atkins’ albums of cyanotypes are charming, illogical and poetic, yet she is remembered as an assistant scientist rather than an artist. For Tainted Love Dover has painted images from Roger Phillips Wild Flowers of Britain (1977), which sought to rekindle the botanical zealotry of Victorian naturalists. The paintings capture the domestic and amateur look of the photographs; some of the plants look half dead and picked and are displayed in an illogical and unscientific way.

Two sides of a (artworld) Coin

May 1st, 2012 | Posted by david kefford in art | event | exhibition - (Comments Off)

Back from Berlin:

GALLERY WEEKEND BERLIN. 51 GALLERIES, 51 OPENINGS.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
  THREE DAYS, THREE NIGHTS. FEEL INVITED. SAVE THE DATE.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
  APRIL 27 - 29 2012.

Gallery Weekend Berlin was an intense few days where the majority of Berlin’s commercial galleries opened their new exhibitions simultaneously – like a city wide art fair – in the hope of pulling in the BIG collectors.   Just like an art fair each participating gallery paid for the ‘privilege’.   It certainly had a feeling of being buzzy but not sure if much business was being done. From what I saw (and I pretty much covered most of the establishment spaces) the work was 2-D painting oriented and conservative in content.    This was very much tailored to an art market driven audience and artist – think BMW and Vogue.

On the flipside and as its antithesis the Berlin Biennial was very much a different proposition.
In his foreword to the Biennial publication Forget Fear, curator Artur Zjimjewski condemns the fetishism of art objects, even those of a political nature, and, alternately, advocates the potency of authentic activism practiced by artists. “Objects,” he writes, “perform certain work, the work of aestheticizing reality, changing ideas into spectacle, and transforming the political into a call that no one follows.”  The KW institute for contemporary art was transformed into a political playground with protest films, alternative education, Slogans and rogue gardening.  The atmosphere when I was there on both days was chaotic with a grungy aesthetic and almost (because it was still being presented in the ‘safe’ context of an art space) anarchic attitude.
Zjimjewski laments the “overwhelming institutionalisation of artists”, saying that the need for “material survival” by art institutions endangers the radicalism of art. With this damning critique of the state of the current art world, Zmijewski sets out the goals for his biennial, which will attempt to answer the question what impact can art have on society and consider whether art can bring about positive change.

“What we need is more art that offers its tools, time, and resources to solve the economic problems of the impoverished majority.” He points out that he is not calling for all art to pursue this cause, but politically engaged performance art is decidedly at the crux of this year’s Berlin Biennale.