Monday, July 24, 2006

Art by Committee

"In the romance of the Western imagination, art is proverbially fashioned in solitude, the writer scribbling away, forlorn in his garret, the painter at work in his atelier. But the exceptions touch some of our most beloved arts: movies, TV, rock music and theater. They're all concocted by that notoriously ill-fated process: the committee." Chicago Tribune 07/23/06

Films are predominately written by one or more individuals then later revised by a handful more. Television shows are notoriously handled by group sessions of writers on a Monday morning. When does artistic ownership come into play?

I recall an adventurous conceptual art show that I served as curator for while still a gallery director in Missouri. The artist’s work consisted of framed burnt pieces of toast, preserved in shellac. The idea was that they were to be mounted on the wall much like trophies so that the value of food could be put into perspective with regards to world hunger. I proposed that the work be taken a step further in its presentation by covering the gallery floor with a protective plastic covering, then hauling in roughly four inches of wall-to-wall dirt to cover it. Next, picnic tables were to be set-up at the opposite end of the gallery, so that visitors during the opening would have to trudge through the dirt to reach the wine and cheese. Even now, I still like the advancements I feel we made by presenting the show in such a fashion; but was the show any longer the sole property of the artist?

At what stage do curators and artists remain creatively separate and when do they become co-committee members? – DN

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