Art Market, meet Blockchain

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? And can cutting edge technology do the teaching? Christie’s seems to think so. Their Art + Tech Summit: Exploring Blockchain, which took place on Tuesday in London, was representative of the old auction house’s enthusiasm for the promise of blockchain technology, which the summit’s organisers were keen to present as a potentially revolutionary solution to the global art industry’s traditional aversion to making its markets transparent, trustworthy and accountable…

My report on ‘Exploring Blockchain’ at Christie’s, for artreview.com read here

Feeling safe? Defending hate speech for artists

My Friday 26 January comment for www.artreview.com

Only a few days after they had been published to support the women’s march day, artist Paul Chan’s publishing house Badlands Unlimited found that their anti-Trump protest posters had been pulled from Facebook and Instagram. The four posters aren’t exactly polite: ‘GOD HATES TRUMP’ reads one, along with ‘FAGS HATE TRUMP’, ‘TRUMP HATES GOD’, and, not forgetting everyone’s most-loathed art collector, ‘GOD HATES IVANKA’. Continue reading “Feeling safe? Defending hate speech for artists”

Public Vs.Private

My column for the January-February 2016 issue of ArtReview, now online. Read it here (requires free registration to artreview.com)

‘The purpose of the public museum is to ensure the long-term availability and display of art.’ With his first sentence, Chris Dercon, soon-to-be-former director of Tate Modern, had already lost the argument. Back in June last year, Dercon gave a speech as part of a symposium made up of international art-museum big-cheeses, at the private Louis Vuitton Foundation, to consider such burning questions as ‘What are the challenges facing public and private museum collections today?’, ‘Who makes art history now?’…

The End of Human Experience

My column for the summer issue of ArtReview, now online. Read it here

“What this seems to mean for contemporary artists is a peculiar approach to seeing humanity: either as just one more ‘thing’ among others – resulting in a fascination with other types of nonhuman entity out there – or as something already long dead and vanished, seen from some (virtual) future perspective in the form of its archaeological record. And you don’t have to look too far at the moment to see how artists and the artworld are lapping up this new zeitgeist…”

How not to make public art

My column on the latest sculpture commissions for Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth on ArtReview.com. Read it here

“The Fourth Plinth committee appear to imagine the public as a strange fusion of bored teenager and angry mob; restless, distracted, excited by bold shapes and colours and thoughtless political truisms about the state of the world.”

Are you experienced? The relentless rise of experience art

My column for the April issue of ArtReview.

“There’s a poster on the platform at Barbican underground station, my stop now when I head to ArtReview’s fancy new offices. The poster is for the Hayward Gallery’s current exhibition, Light Show, with an upbeat, punning quote from The Independent newspaper: ‘Hayward Gallery trips the light switch fantastic!’ On the show’s website, a YouTube clip previews the show’s glowing array of artworks that use artificial light, and a warning banner declares that ‘Light Show is extremely popular and tickets are selling out daily. You should expect to queue upon arrival and advance booking is strongly recommended.’”

Read on at ArtReview’s new website here

The end of the artworld

My column in the March issue of ArtReview.

“It’s an early January evening at London’s ICA. I’m here as part of a panel debating whether or not we’re witnessing ‘The End of the Artworld…?’ Alongside me are The Art Newspaper’s newshound editor-at large Georgina Adam, the avuncular Cork Street dealer James Mayor and youngster commercial gallerist Danielle Horn. Given the hysteria-inducing title, it’s inevitable that the discussion veers towards the downbeat….”

Read on at ArtReview’s new website here

Critical value and market value way out of whack? So what?

My column for the January-February issue of ArtReview. Read the whole issue for free here

The extreme mix of art and money that makes up a large part of the artworld has few defenders at the moment. After all, how can the values of art – which is supposed to be something good, exemplary or at least disruptive in a positive way – have got so entangled with the values of money, with the apparently evermore- venal culture of ostentatious luxury and financial chicanery that now seems to be the main driver of the international market for art? Continue reading “Critical value and market value way out of whack? So what?”

Fear of things

My column in September’s ArtReview magazine. Read the entire issue for free at www.artreviewdigital.com

“Do you remember things? Actual things? And you could touch them, couldn’t you, remember? The physical world, I’m talking about — remember it, older people? Matter? The older people, they remember… actual matter. Remember? Things? And it was all real and it all existed, yeah? Not like now.”

I’m watching the brilliant British standup Stewart Lee on YouTube, in a show from his Comedy Vehicle series, in a skit in which he satirises the voguish discussions of how virtualised, digital culture is making material objects – like paper letters and vinyl records – redundant. (“For the younger people, a ‘record’ was like a giant, flat MP3, right?”) Around the same time, I’m reading an interview with much-feted international artist Tino Sehgal on the Guardian website. Sehgal doesn’t seem to like things very much:’Our culture is hung up on and overemphasises what can be derived from material objects,’ Sehgal muses. Continue reading “Fear of things”

The value of art school?

My column in April’s ArtReview magazine. Read the entire issue for free at www.artreviewdigital.com

What’s the value of an art college education? And is it really worth getting into shitloads of debt for? That’s the question that continues to grind away in the world of UK higher education, as students this year begin to face the new, austerity-era regime of £9,000-a-year tuition fees for an undergraduate degree, cooked up by our pantomime-horse liberal-conservative coalition government. Want to go to art college? Well, you could be looking forward to more than £40,000 of debt. Continue reading “The value of art school?”