“We’re currently in an extremely dynamic moment for emerging artists and for culture.” – Chrissie Iles
“It’s also about elevating the conversation that’s happening in those cities to an international one.” – Carolyn Ramo
“But we know we can’t go back to 1958. That’s just not happening.” – Hamza Walker
Charlotte Burns: Hello and welcome to In Other Words. I’m your host, Charlotte Burns, and on today’s show, we’re talking about contemporary art across America, with a special focus on artists outside major market cities.
I’m joined by three great guests: Chrissie Iles, a senior curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art here in New York; Carolyn Ramo, the executive director of the non-profit, grant-making organization Artadia; and Hamza Walker, executive director of the independent art space, LAXART.
Before we dive into the show, just a reminder to check our latest In Other Words newsletter in which we cover the battle against the biennial bulge. If you’re not already a subscriber, be sure to sign up at artagencypartners.com. Now, to today’s episode.
On today’s show, we’re talking about contemporary art across America, with a special focus on artists outside major market cities. A topic that has come up over and over again in the course of the podcast—which we’ve been doing now for a year and a half—is this idea of where people are looking; what art they’re finding that’s exciting them; and where the great contemporary art of today is being made throughout the United States in various different cities beyond the typical hubs. We thought it would be a good idea to bring you guys in to talk to us a little bit about ways in which we can broaden the lens.
I think we should define what we’re discussing today. Are we talking about artists who are working beyond the market in ways that the market isn’t noticing? Or are we talking about artists who are just working outside of New York, essentially.
Carolyn Ramo: There are so many interesting artists outside of the market cities. For me personally it’s been a discovery, but I think also it could be a discovery for so many others. They might not know about the artists that are working today in Houston or Atlanta or even in Los Angeles. I think it’s just about expanding what we look at.
Charlotte Burns: You wrote a really interesting article, Carolyn, for Artsy last year which is called “The Art World Needs to Ditch It’s Big City Snobbery”, and you said: “The work that I see on studio visits and in smaller art spaces, despite flying under the radar from most of my colleagues on the coast, is frequently more compelling than 90% of what I see in New York galleries.” Why do you think that is? And Chrissie in your travels have you found that too?
Chrissie Iles: I have, and I think that there’s an urgent need to not monetize and not package young artists, emerging artists, work that’s being made that is not necessarily collectible. It’s very important to both allow that community and that culture and that ecology to develop without people who want to monetize it or sort of grab it, sort of hovering over it waiting for the talent to emerge. That’s not how great art thrives. At the same time, you don’t want to leave it alone to the point where there’s no attention paid to it.
It’s a question of balance, and I think it’s also a question of speed because of social media, Instagram, etc. There are things that look fantastic on Instagram, and they’re really not very good, and there are wonderful works that don’t look good on Instagram.
How can you tell what something looks like from a JPEG anymore than you tell who somebody is from a JPEG? So, I think that what we’re talking about is the speed of something, the falsity of the way in which social media can sort of distort things, and also the very important trajectory from art school into the wider world, into this community that artists form with each other in different places.
I just feel that art of our time changes. The art world can no longer be a white art world, for example, the white cube. This is simply unacceptable, and everyone is starting to really understand this and shift it.
The current situation is making artists very activist. I think we’re currently in an extremely dynamic moment for emerging artists and for culture. We’re done with binaries. It’s not alternative center or market, non-market. It’s much more complex than that. I think it’s our responsibility, all of us, to kind of pay attention to that and to listen and to respond to and support and be very aware of the way in which things are changing as they change, because things are changing extremely rapidly, and I think in a very exciting way.
Carolyn Ramo: How does that inform your curatorial practice at the Whitney specifically?
Chrissie Iles: In terms of the collection, I’m building what I’d maybe term black space within the collection. I’m completely rewriting the history of film and video as it’s normally written through collections to really create a lot of space for the highly significant work that black artists have been making, and filmmakers. Just the dialogues we’re having within the curatorial department have profoundly shifted.
Charlotte Burns: Hamza, when Chrissie says she thinks we’re in a very dynamic moment, you agreed over the line. I wondered if you could chime in on why you think it’s an especially dynamic moment.
Hamza Walker: Well, I think Chrissie brought up the reevaluation, just looking back over the last 30, 40, 50 years and the extent to which things are subject to reappraisal. How… I mean, there’s contemporary art, and then there is the historization of the 1980s; trying now to get a handle on the 1990s. I think of those things as falling within the purview of contemporary art. But along with those efforts to make sense of both the present and then, through the lens of the present, the recent past, well then you can cast it back. What extent does it begin to cast new light on those canonized narratives? So, I would say there’s been a significant reappraisal of artists of color, for example.
Charlotte Burns: Right.
Hamza Walker: And their relationship to abstraction, right?
Charlotte Burns: You’re absolutely right; we seem to be in a moment in which people are looking back to correct the mistakes of history. Do you think that’s why it’s dynamic, that tend towards rehistorization?
Hamza Walker: Sure. Of course. I mean yeah. There’s a Charles White exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago right now, and I’m thrilled to see it at the Art Institute of Chicago. My feeling about it is if weren’t for Kerry James Marshall, that would probably be at a university gallery—
Charlotte Burns: That’s so interesting.
Hamza Walker: —rather than up in the big house.
Charlotte Burns: So, the contemporary artist’s successes bringing in the predecessor’s of that work.
Hamza Walker: Exactly; but the idea of bringing in Charles White is also forcing a wholesale reappraisal of the relationship between the grand narratives and the paradigms about abstraction and figuration, for example. Nowhere near as neat and tidy as they were 10, let alone 20, years ago, right?
Chrissie Iles: Yes.
Charlotte Burns: Yeah.
Hamza Walker: So, that would be one example. The other, in terms of Jack Whitten or Melvin Edwards, I’m happy to see that work do well in the marketplace. And to think about Melvin Edwards being taken up by Daniel Buchholz, I think that that’s fabulous. So, that there is a corresponding with the market so that it isn’t simply a question of these reassessment and reappraisal of paradigms, but that that work is doing well and being valued not just art historically or on the academic side of things, but also on the market side of things. So, it’s a really dynamic moment if those things are taken as examples.
Charlotte Burns: That’s really interesting. When you talk about the market, I want to just move over to Carolyn here because the article that I mentioned earlier, “The Art World Needs to Ditch It’s Big City Snobbery”, which is great title, you said—
Carolyn Ramo: Not my title, unfortunately.
Charlotte Burns: Well, well done to the editors of Artsy. You wrote about the market as a key component of change-making, and you said that: “For collectors and the advisors who help them build collections, understand that buying work is more than just owning a loved object that may appreciate in value; it can sometimes be an act of philanthropy. As you consider your purchases, set aside market data and an artist’s CV, and become part of the network that supports the artists whose work you admire. Once you have the privilege of getting to know an artist, their work, and their goals, think about how you could make a game-changing introduction on their behalf.”
I thought that was really interesting because it harked back, I thought, to an earlier way of doing business in which collectors spoke to artists, and they were patrons and things functioned in that way. Are collectors interesting in moving beyond the marketplace in that way?
Carolyn Ramo: Absolutely. I just was in Cleveland a couple weeks ago for the triennial, which was fantastic to see what a city can become when curators kind of look at all the spaces there. I also had the privilege to go to a private collection where they had pretty much given artists a copious amount of funding to make whatever they’d want to make. You just don’t really see that happening. That is sort of beyond a relationship with a gallery. That is direct patronage.
But what I think I meant in that sentence specifically is more that, say, an introduction to Chrissie that meant a studio visit that allowed them to have discourse they wouldn’t have access to. By they, I mean artists. That conversation can open up the possibility for endless other conversations, could mean that the artists push their work in a different direction, which means they have the courage to approach a gallery, to meet new artists, to talk to them.
What we hear from Artadia awardees—and there are 325 artists that we’ve given grants to in the past 20 years—is the majority of them have opportunities to maybe sell their work, and that’s always helpful, but really they want to talk about their work and meet curators and meet collectors that are interested in what they’re doing, and that tends to be way more valuable than just a singular sale—
Charlotte Burns: Right.
Carolyn Ramo: —that puts money into their bank account and helps them keep going. The idea is this community aspect that Hamza and Chrissie have been speaking about, and I think what’s exciting is those communities do exist in cities that are not the market centers.
Charlotte Burns: So, what we’re saying is that there are cities in which artists are producing really interesting work. The market may be overlooking them. They may be somewhat overlooked by curators as well, or am I—
Chrissie Iles: Oh, I mean I think that—
Charlotte Burns: —simplifying too much?
Chrissie Iles: —collecting is not about resale. I mean that would be—
Carolyn Ramo: Sometimes it is.
Chrissie Iles: —incredibly depressing. Collecting is about stewardship, and it’s about cultural participation. It’s about building a collection. You don’t need to collect art to make money. You should never collect art to make money, in my opinion, because that’s really using the artist. Collecting is about really… it’s having stewardship over very important cultural artifacts.
All of the collectors, certainly that I work with, are passionate. That’s what they all have in common. They’re very passionate, and they’re very eclectic. They like this; they like that. Some of them are passionate about videos. Some of them are passionate about books. Some of them are passionate about artists of color. There are many different ways. Collecting really reflects the personality and the character of the collector.
Of course, the market plays into that in important ways, but that’s just a vehicle to create the collection. It shouldn’t become a sort of one floor of Wall Street.
Charlotte Burns: Hamza, what were you saying there?
Hamza Walker: I think Chrissie’s point about stewardship is wonderful, but who are those collectors who not only understand and have a sense of their stewardship of works of art, but that those works of art reflect a region, or potentially? It isn’t necessarily a question of: ” I collect artwork, and I belong to an international class of collector,” and by international class of collector, I mean a roster of 200 names of artists that circulate within a relatively global marketplace. So, that if you go to St. Louis, if you go to Albuquerque, if you go to Atlanta, you’re going to be looking at the same 200 artists, right?
And what about those individuals—and I don’t even want to call them collectors, per se, as much as stewards of the region—they understand and have some kind of commitment to the artwork being made in their region. Understanding that, if not for them, then what is its fate? And they are on the front lines, in so far as it is there. It is someone caring about the artwork made in St. Louis. Then it’s museums large and small; university galleries; all the way up to the major encyclopedic museums. How does that work filter into the bigger narrative? Even, if you were to say national narrative of American art or something.
Charlotte Burns: And how does it?
Hamza Walker: That’s a really specific path to set for oneself. Just from a professional point of view, I’m trusting that there are those collectors who have set that as a task for themselves and have a self- consciousness about being a steward of the region. But it’s actually, again, professionally interfacing with those juries and awards that are given to artists in a given region.
Charlotte Burns: That’s interesting.
Hamza Walker: If I wanted to know about what has been going on in any of those cities, to look at who’s won those awards over X number of years. But again, those awards are a kind of tending to region, and should be understood as that.
Chrissie Iles: That’s why Artadia has geographic boundaries, that we’re interested in artists in specific cities, because part of it is supporting those specific artists, but it’s also about elevating the conversation that’s happening in those cities to an international one. But also to say, Hamza, what you were talking about in terms of collectors that are really understanding of being loyal to a community—that is what I mean by patronage and philanthropy. We all have our roles in the community, and whether you’re a grant-maker or a curator highlighting artists and specific regions, collectors and their act of collecting also is contributing to that community. Hopefully.
Charlotte Burns: One thing we hear a lot from curators, and you guys can speak to this well, I’m sure. One thing we hear a lot is that there is a sense that the professionalization of the art world has become something that changes the ways in which artists are discovered. That’s a kind of multipronged professionalization: from the artists themselves being educated in a different way and prepared for a career in the art world, more so than was the case previously; the professionalization of curating as a career path as well; and also the professionalization of the art market, and the increasing belief that art is an asset class. To what extent do you think those are impacting the art that we are seeing today, and how we are discovering it?
Chrissie Iles: [Deep exhale]
An artist can be the most professionalized artist you’ve ever come across, and you won’t want to show their work, or it doesn’t belong in art history in the museum. Professionalization… I mean, Dan Graham didn’t go to art school, you know? Really, it’s a red herring. I think the professionalization of curators has been a good thing. Art as an asset is not something I subscribe to, because I’m an art historian, and I’m a museum curator, so some of the things I collect are some of the most important things that have ever been made in the last 50 years, and they have no price on them. You don’t say a Godard film is an extraordinary film because it’s worth $5m. I think that the whole relationship between time-based work and a unique object—
Charlotte Burns: Is different anyway.
Chrissie Iles: You can’t measure art in terms of its price—especially working in a museum, because once it goes into a museum the price is academic anyway, because it’s not going to be resold. You’re looking at art historical significance. And art historical significance and price: sometimes they have a relationship, but often they don’t. You don’t want every museum and every collection to look like Starbucks, everything the same. You’re going to the same city in the same… you know.
Charlotte Burns: I agree. It’s more, I was wondering about the impact of that.
Chrissie Iles: Honestly, I go to a lot of MFA shows, and it’s the work. You don’t need to become professionalized in your approach. You just need to make great work. I’m going to art schools that are very expensive and art schools that are city schools. The standard is the same. Paying a large amount of money for a private education does not give you more opportunity in the art world.
Charlotte Burns: That’s interesting.
Chrissie Iles: Why would it?
Charlotte Burns: Maybe the—
Chrissie Iles: You’re not talented because you’re wealthy. You’re talented because you’re an artist who has something to say.
Carolyn Ramo: But I do think you’d need connections in the art word. That is real. You need to have talent and make interesting work, but for instance, early in the Artadia process, at least for me, to understand why and how we give grants, it requires a studio visit to receive the award. I used to say: “It doesn’t really matter what you say or don’t say, it’s the work. It’s about the merit of the work.” But I do think it matters how artists know how to articulate their work. I do think I see more and more that artists are able to articulate their ideas—
Chrissie Iles: But that’s not to do with professionalization. That’s to do with education.
Carolyn Ramo: Right.
Chrissie Iles: I mean, you’re taught in group crits to articulate your ideas, but that’s nothing to do with professionalization. That’s to do with actually having a dialogue within a group in an art school context about each other’s work. I’m a visitor to Columbia, and also Hunter, and NYU, and it’s always about that dialogue. They are not trying to sell you something, they’re trying to talk to you about their work. Art schools, like universities when you study any subject, are a way of developing your voice and as an artist that’s a very useful platform to do that.
One of the things that has always been on my mind—and I think this is one way in which Artadia is very important—is what happens to those artists once they leave art school? There is a period where they go out into the world, they set up their studios. Sometimes they just give up and end up doing other things full-time. Sometimes they keep going, and so, I think we’re talking about a whole complex structure that follows after you leave art school when your work, if it’s strong and good, needs all kinds of opportunities to be—
Charlotte Burns: Seen.
Chrissie Iles: —on the radar and seen and for you to have… But that’s a kind of a very important larger structure. And then, how the market plays into that—you know what I mean? It is not that you’re either in the market or you’re not; you’re in an art fair or you’re not. That’s not the point. The point is that maybe you will be as well, but then that’s great. But we’re not in a market. We’re in a field of which a market is part. It’s a question of how to collectively create a structure that’s in balance.
Charlotte Burns: I had two questions. I wanted to ask you, Chrissie, because you said that there’s no real difference between the education you get at a city university or private university.
I was just thinking about access. If you are in an arts university in the middle of somewhere that we haven’t heard of, to Carolyn’s point about access, you probably wouldn’t get you visiting.
Chrissie Iles: They do. I go. I have to be invited. But I look at them online.
Charlotte Burns: How wide do you cast your net? I know that you are particularly diligent in looking at art around the country. How do you decide where to focus?
Chrissie Iles: MFAs, I look at all the main art schools across the country and their websites if I can’t get there because curators have modest travel budget—
Charlotte Burns: Of course.
Chrissie Iles: —and so we can’t—
Charlotte Burns: Go and see everything.
Chrissie Iles: —go and see everything. It’s a problem partly of logistics, because it’s such a huge country.
Charlotte Burns: If we say that we’re in a dynamic moment for the art making, are we in a dynamic or a meager moment for the art stewardship?
Hamza Walker: I actually wanted to go back to the issue of professionalization.
Charlotte Burns: Please do, yeah.
Hamza Walker: The place, I would say, is under-discussed. I mean, to be committed to somewhere where you live and the artists in that place, as opposed to a mobile class that then moves around from place to place.
That’s a form of stewardship. Again, not necessarily based in collecting, but who knows what about a region. And so plugging into colleagues, plugging into a scene and talking to colleagues who have intel about ground conditions for culture, is really, really important, I would say.
Charlotte Burns: Can I ask you all; you look more broadly than most people in the art world at the art being made, and I’m talking specifically about America for the purposes of this show—where in the states can you identify that there are especially lively scenes that people may or may not be aware of?
Hamza Walker: Every city with a population of X. [laughs] I mean, Detroit; St. Louis; Kansas City; Columbus; Albuquerque. There are scenes—Tulsa—in every one of these places.
Carolyn Ramo: I think a good measure, Chrissie mentioned, artist-run spaces. When Artadia thinks about expansion and adding other cities that we would provide grants for, that’s something we really look at in terms of: are there artists? And what Hamza’s talking about, artists that are committed to their community, and if they don’t find what they need immediately accessible, whether it’s the gallery scene or institutional spaces or exhibition spaces, they create it themselves. I think that commitment is a great way for people to start to say: “Where are the artist-run spaces in my city or in the place that I’m going to visit?”
Chrissie Iles: I think that also changes. So, for example, there are certain moments when Portland will have a scene, and it will do something. Then, some of those artists may come to New York, so that scene changes. I think that happens precisely because each group of artists that emerges creates their own community and does self-organize. It’s something that you can’t explain, you can’t predict, you can’t capture. You have to leave it. It’s like falling in love or writing a poem. It’s something that’s got a magic to it, and you just can’t capture it. And it’s—
Hamza Walker: Absolutely.
Chrissie Iles: You just have to wait for it to appear, and then it’s very generative, and you have to respond to it without killing it. Things are very fluid now. People move around.
Charlotte Burns: Right, and has been. But we have been living in a period of near-liberal world order where globalization has been something that governments have encouraged; borders have been largely open. We are moving quickly into a period that’s much more nationalistic. Do you see that that will have any impact on the exchange of ideas that we see in America? Even within America, that movement around the country, do you think that’s going to happen more or less? Is it playing out already, or are we just trying to predict a future we don’t know?
Hamza Walker: I think that that certain progressive floodgates have been opened. I want to believe that. I don’t think it’s going to have its moments of utter regression, such as this particular moment, but all totaled, the mobility is the dominant narrative. There will be reactionary periods where borders go up. I think things are far more fluid—despite tariffs and those kinds of things—the flow of capital across borders, migrations, why people move to where they move and that narrative. That train has left the station.
Chrissie Iles: I completely agree, and I think that it’s one way in which curators can be helpful, because I think that opportunities to work in different centers, like the Dakar Biennale, that those dialogues that are going between Dakar and Berlin, or you know, just to give one example. But I think it’s a truly global situation.
In Europe, there’s a very strong intellectual underpinning to that dialogue, and I think that has to be preserved here. I think that it’s very critical for curators to educate collectors and think about art history, which is also what, in museums, one does. You know, bringing in artworks, thinking 300 years ahead: how are you going to represent this moment in art history?
It’s so complex, and we have a cultural responsibility because museums are primarily scholarly archives of culture. They are pedagogical institutions, so how do you exercise your responsibility culturally by laying down the very layered and complex picture that’s always being added to and always being revised and always changing? And what are the dialogues that museums are having with each other and that colleagues within museums are having with each other?
We’re talking about artists of color; we’re talking about indigenous artists; we’re talking about women; we’re talking about all the things that are being talked about across the country. We are trying to pull apart those established narratives—that are clearly false—and create new ones. How do we do that? It’s very exciting actually, and this is our primary responsibility. We are cultural workers.
Hamza Walker: Yeah, absolutely. The whole idea of a retreat culturally… it’s the field in which we work, the issue of national identity. It’s not going back. We can’t go back.
Charlotte Burns: Right.
Hamza Walker: I mean, that would be ridiculous. [laughs] I say this, but other amazing things have happened. But to retreat into older notions about what a French artist is and French-ness, or even American-ness, saying those things… it would have been a fight in 1988. It’s a different moment now, but we know we can’t go back to 1958.
Charlotte Burns: Right.
Hamza Walker: That’s just not happening.
Charlotte Burns: It’s interesting, because the world is nostalgic in that way for… we’re seeing that in playing out in societies and politics in the West, that sort of nostalgia for those bygone days. That’s kind of interesting; that idea of the art world is more and more invested in exploring the fractured and diverse notions of what—the Whitney ever since its reopening, for example, has especially doubled down on the idea of America and what that means. The most recent biennial was one of the most geographically diverse ever and consciously so; it was diverse in many ways.
I guess my question to you all is, we’re in a period as we’ve discussed, of looking at overlooked histories and revising things. Part of that revision probably needs to be geographical to some extent, because the histories have been so focused on London, Paris and New York. LA has become more the story in the last five, ten years. Do you think that curatorial community at large is making efforts to look for artists who are operating and working in more diverse geographic centers than people think of when they think of the American art world?
Chrissie Iles: I think in terms of revision, I mean it’s the nature of art history and history to be constantly revised. So, I don’t think we’re in a particularly unusual moment of revision, I think on that level. I just think it’s the depth of it and the speed of it, and I think that’s also partly because of technology and a greater access to information and scholarship. I also think it’s a reaction to our current political situation.
Because of the geography of America, I think you’ve got a sort of logistical situation where you need to be able to afford to fly. Which is why I think what Hamza has said about place versus this sort of mobile class that moves from place to place, that’s very important.
One thing I do think that museums could do differently, in terms of getting a greater access to work being made outside New York or LA, is to maybe tour exhibitions more. To actually almost work like film festivals, because sometimes museums can be a little bit: “Well, we want to be first,” or: “We want to do this show.” Then because it’s quite expensive to travel shows, but you know there’s something about the originality of ideas, if one curator or one institution, that there isn’t with film festivals, for example.
Carolyn Ramo: I still think there’s a lot more work to do, though, in that department. I mean for instance, you mentioned the Whitney Biennial. Not to single it out, but except for maybe one artist, there were no artists from the south in the last Whitney Biennial. It could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure.
I think, again, just using that as a one example, it’s very hard with these survey shows where you’re trying to capture a gigantic country. I just think that we could all collectively be doing a better job exploring beyond our specific cities. It really is challenging to think about a country. So, I can’t even imagine going through that endeavor, but at the same time, we could delve a little deeper.
Chrissie Iles: It would almost be interesting to do a show like “Greater New York”, but have—I mean, in a way this is old-fashioned, but I don’t know, I’m just thinking off the top of my head—but just sort of almost substitute New York with Detroit or Portland or wherever it is. But, you know, that gets into an old-fashioned way of thinking about thing, but I think that exposure to different places and the culture of different places that Hamza was talking about, the ecology of those places, is critical. I totally agree with you, to the way in which art histories are being written, the visibility that artists have, and also the micro-climates that exist all over the place.
Hamza Walker: I took a lot of heart in the fact that Miyoko Ito had a show at Artist Space, and people in New York were wild about Miyoko Ito, and to think… it’s like: “Oh my God, what took them so long? Miyoko Ito. She’s like part of Chicago.” Suellen Rocca, the Imagists are now being given a lot of play. Thinking about Suellen Rocca being taken on by Matthew Marks.
Charlotte Burns: So interesting how those areas are so close in a way, but so distinct. The regionality of America, or maybe that’s something that’s shifting. You just referred to the Imagists, Hamza. I think there are a lot of artists who were previously labeled as somewhat regional because they weren’t operating in the sort of dominant New York style, whatever that was at that given time, who are now being reconsidered. You see it a lot wherever you go. You see it in the market and in museum shows, both, and lots of different angles on that. It’s kind of interesting, that broadening up to look at what America really is, by taking a broader lens on its art.
Hamza Walker: Sure. I mean think about writing. I think literature has a much, much, much more generous—and it wears regionalism on its sleeve—so you can’t talk about a canon of American literature without regions: southern writers, where they’re from and their writing in terms of the sense of place as reflecting a set of conditions that are unique to a given place, right? But yet all totaled, it then makes up the body of work that we call American literature. But that seems to be just this conversation being a symptom of how little that model is taken up by the visual arts.
Charlotte Burns: Right. That’s really interesting. Guys, we have to wrap up in a second, I think, I’m getting shouted at in my right ear. Just before we go, I thought it would be nice to kind of round out with a kind of comment from everybody on this. I think a nice thing to end up on actually, Hamza just took us to this point where we were talking about the model for literature being a different model than the one for the visual arts. How do you think we can move more towards that idea of being slightly more generous in the visual arts of thinking about America, and in a bigger way?
Carolyn Ramo: I think it just starts with what this whole conversation was about, is looking beyond those 200 artists that are being sold at auction and that are in survey shows again and again and again. And looking beyond maybe your specific city, but definitely beyond the marketplace, as Chrissie has pointed out. That is really not what the art ecology and what our community is about.
Charlotte Burns: Chrissie?
Chrissie Iles: Curators need to be given time to research and to travel and to discover different communities in different cities and different artists, not just if they happen to be curating the Whitney Biennial or whichever other biennial, where you get the opportunity to travel more. Curators need to also be encouraged to look at MFA programs, look at young artists. But not with a view to spotting new talent, but with a view to just finding out what’s going on and what dialogues are taking place, and what also, as Hamza was saying, the ecology of each place is.
Charlotte Burns: The texture.
Chrissie Iles: Which means learning more about America.
Charlotte Burns: Right.
Chrissie Iles: It’s very important to really do a lot of research and to have a dialogue that doesn’t focus on success or the market, but focuses on ideas. Ultimately, that’s what makes great art interesting to people in all areas of the art world anyway.
Carolyn Ramo: And there are great ideas to be found all over the place.
Charlotte Burns: And Hamza? To you, what would you say?
Hamza Walker: We are in a young country, and in terms of the growth of the development of regions, I look to things like, you mentioned Pacific Standard Time, but I also think about the Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. Regional. The Great Rivers Biennial around St. Louis. The extent to which those shows over time, or institutions, can become… they just grow roots and become more self-reflective, and understand again themselves as stewards of the regions. So, it isn’t necessarily along with a certain self-consciousness, a reflexivity about being a steward of the region, for whom and when do you mount exhibitions to remind the region of what it is and its history. But over time these, again institutions, events, will develop.
Charlotte Burns: That’s interesting because that’s kind of a shift; I remember around 10 years ago when I used to work as PR, it was a sort of mark of the success of something if there was an international artist at an international event. Everything was kind of aiming to be sort of identikit. It seems that—and not so much to do with the local, but more just sort of saying: “We can be international like you can.” It’s not so much about the specificity of this site.
We’re perhaps moving into a period in which that’s becoming more important again, focusing on what makes you unique as the Prospect biennial in New Orleans or Pacific Standard Time in Los Angeles.
Okay, thank you very much to my guests for taking part today, it’s been very interesting to talk to you. Thank you to Hamza and Carolyn and to Chrissie.
Carolyn Ramo: Thank you for having us.
Hamza Walker: Thank you for having us.
Chrissie Iles: Yes.
Charlotte Burns: Thank you very much.