Thinking Again about Artist-run Culture
A very interesting read, and worth much consideration and discussion. Fact is, the ARC model has become so thoroughly bureaucratized (*due to the funding model, not the individual artists who work so hard to keep them going!) that the entire notion of self-determination as described in the article reads like a bad joke. New, alternative spaces are popping up all the time – but these are run on a shoestring (at best), and offer little or nothing in the way of exhibition feasted support – because they can’t afford it. There’s got to be a better, more responsive, and more practical way to support non-commercial and experimental work!
As I understand it, the impetus behind the formation of artist-run centres (ARCs) was artistic self-determination. ARCs, as a form of self-determination, distinguished themselves from commercial galleries in their distance from (if not their opposition to) the market, and they distinguished themselves from museums in the temporal direction of their activity, which was unconcerned with historicization and prioritized experimentation over connoisseurship. Emerging in the late 1960s, arguments for self-determination were taken seriously and the support of ARCs can be read alongside other social phenomena of the time, such as the civil rights movement, second wave feminism and antiestablishment counterculture. At this time, the infrastructure of the Canada Council already existed and the Council’s expansion to support artist-run initiatives reflects its adoption of the zeitgeist.
Given the oppositional stance of artist-run centres—from the beginning operating against the market and against the museum—I think there is a case to be made…
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