Why Do You Expect So Little?
[Editor's column: Why do you expect so little from your arts writers in the daily newspapers?]
"Frozen forms of extasy" reads the title of a review published in Dagens Nyheter. I really genuinely look forward to seeing this show; Charlotte Birnbaum's at the Hallwyllska Palace or Museum, whichever, in the very heart of Stockholm. I think she is a lovely person and from what I can tell from the few times I met her, generous, and talented. This isn't about her or her show, but rather about the art coverage served my way regularly from the two big daily papers; Dagens Nyheter that published the mentioned review and its main competitor Svenska Dagbladet where the influential writers seriously need to be taken to task about their choices. I really couldn't possibly be the only person to feel this way. Impossibly. In fact I’ve had this conversation with enough of you to know the sentiment is shared. I defnitely realize the general public want to read about a new show every time Karin Mamma Andersson, Ernst Billgren and Lars Lerin does one. It's in the public interest, it "sells" the arts section, I get it, Mañana mañana. But I sometimes get a sour taste in my mouth at how limited the scope and breadth of writing coverage seems to be. Gilbert & George, Mats Hjelm Ernst Billgren, Hans Lannér, Carl-Fredrik Reuterswärd, Enno Hallek and Curt Asker are some of the names I appear to be seeing browsing the online editions. Pleasantly I also find "younger" women; Hanna Ljungh, Theresa Traore Dahlberg and Arvida Byström but cannot shake off the feeling that everything seem to revolve LARGELY (not exclusively) around established and tradtional art venues and galleries. A feeling that might be arbitrary and yet a feeling all the same that coverage is afforded large galleries with personnel who can "work" and engage the "press". The last time I was a tiny bit surprised was seeing internet phenonomenon Arvida Byström in a review and then figured; what’s so surprising about it? It’s Galleri Steinsland Berliner, a very established gallery in Stockholm. Not the street-art-oriented maverick gallery it used to be known. Hence, nothing to be surprised over. At all. Balance and diversity is key in editorial choices but balance seems to be lackluster.
I also agree and think it's important for an older generation of artists to have their due (and they do sometimes; again and again) but cannot reconcile with the feeling of the generational divide (between myself and the art) I'm served and sold reading the papers. It's as though sometimes absolutely nothing has happened in this realm of contemporary art after Ola Billgren and Baertling. Take Stockholm for example; it's a fairly small city, It's not Chelsea in NYC with 300 plus galleries...I'm sure the art enthusiasts can navigate their way around the considerably few established venues and galleries that exist here by a click or two on the World Wide Web on their own. They can probably find their way to Millesgården. I think it would be so much more beneficial to a potential art audience to sometimes be introduced as well to art exhibitions, events, venues and locales that are more off-the-grid to the general mass. For the variety! Let people find these events; serve the readers and audiences! Do your job as art writers and be informed about what is going on in town and WHERE. All corners and outskirts. Channel your critical pen for reviews towards places that today are almost only found through Facebook. You have the influence to get people far out into the suburbs and from one end of the city to the other; you know you do. It really isn't that hard. Pitch a more extensive list of reviews and features to your editors that is inclusive rather than exclusive. Maybe you already are? I dont’t know but would love to know. My feeling is it would make it so much easier for indiependent and artist-run spaces to open (in a city where it’s already terribly hard) if there was a support from the press in terms of exposure, in order to help them establish and reach out to people. Routine and conveniece is such a road block here, as we know. Does Birgitta Rubin and Clemens Poellinger, considered to be among the more powerful reviewers, care about more recent indiependent transplants in Stockholm like Galleri OCH, Coyote and Galleri Nos? Do they know they exist? Do they go? So many questions. Certainly don't get this impression reading their texts and seeing their selections.
Fall list 2018 of what not to miss in one of the two big dailies:
Linn Fernström, Galleri Forsblom Nymaterialism at Bonniers Konsthall William Morris at Millesgården Warhol at Moderna Museet Nationalmuseum, re-opening
Spring list 2019 of what not to miss in the same daily:
Danish Golden Era at Nationalmuseum Mud muses (Robert Rauschenberg et alia) at Moderna Museet Accelerator, inauguration of venue (Stockholm University) fall 2019 Bauhaus 100 year anniversary; various exhibitions and events in German7 Venice Biennale
The apparent ignorance annoys the hell out of me. The reading occasionally also quite bores me the hell out. How much time do you want for your progress?