Wednesday, February 28, 2007

White Columns Artist Registry... Matthew Higgs II

AN AMAZING COINCIDENCE! An artist who responded last week that she had "applied to White Columns and have kept my applications current and updated and have resubmitted at least 4 times, but have never, in 2 years, gotten a yes or no, even after emails and phone calls" got her White Columns Artist Registry rejection YESTERDAY! Weird, we were JUST talking about this last week.

Here is a quote from White Columns Curator/Director Matthew Higgs, from Clive Robertson's Policy Matters...

"I don't sympathize with empowerment, survival, battle, frustration and struggle. This essentially seems to be a defeatist or negative position. The idea of us being outsiders, I don't agree with at all. I do not recognize that concept [in the art field]. I'm an optimist. I genuinely cannot believe how exciting life is everyday...I don't see any struggle in the field we work in [which] is largely fuelled by the spirit of generosity."


A little more from the Clive Robertson book -

"Higgs leaned heavily on the purpose of artistic work "as a looking for or thinking about what doesn't exist in the world," to explain why "my practice as a curator is largely selfish. I make exhibitions that I want to see...I spend almost no time thinking about who the audience might be for the work I do." Current museum curators of modern or contemporary art are hardly likely to make the "fuck the audience" public statement that Higgs does; however, using the rhetoric of selfish concern for art or artist's intentions as an excuse to bracket out issues of empowerment or struggle has very much been the standard bailiwick of male art museum curators everywhere. While Higgs' personal ascension from Joy Division fanzine editor to the London's ICA and beyond is, for some, inspirational, it perhaps stretches the usefulness of a boundary-less concept of a curatorial practice within artist-run culture."

White Columns is currently showing Sleeve Notes - writing for/and or on record sleeves.

I'm thinking that as long as Higgs is running White Columns, it doesn't matter too much whether or not you are included in the registry. He isn't curating from it, he isn't interested in it, it doesn't sound like he has any interest in even the idea of it. Applying to that registry automatically identifies you as a possibly frustrated struggler, and Matt said (above) that he does not recognize that concept.

Lauren Ross, the curator/director previous to Higgs, often included artists from the registry. All of the artists from her last show at White Columns, Semi-Lucid, are currently listed in the registry -

Andrea Aimi
Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
Robert Gutierrez
Jesse Lambert
Robert Medvedz
Jiha Moon
Aaron Noble
Julian Pozzi

Previous to that she curated Breaking Ground, of which eight of the nine included artists are currently in the registry (including Gedi Sibony), before that was RANDOM ORDER, of which all but two of the nine included artists are currently in the registry, and before that she co-curated Regarding Gloria... with five of those artists currently listed in the registry. There are plenty of other Ross-curated shows between those, and previous to, with artist registry artists.

I like research but I'm tired from trying to find a registry artist in a Higgs show. I give up.


Anonymous said...

Martin -
I think you should just confess that you are destined to be an artist-curator! You ARE already in one sense. Everyone has their own agenda and we can either wait until our work fits into someone's agenda or we can create own own. I've done both and each has its own frustrations.

What do you think about the SHOWDOWN at the Saatchi site? I can't believe there isn't a fix going on there... sort of like American Idol... or the 2004 Presidential election.

other news - John Pollard recently sold a piece from his booth at Scope to Cindy Sherman!

There will be panel discussion on Donato's work at Reynold's gallery next week. More info on that soon.

Anonymous said...

a second artist who commented on last week's post got his white columns rejection. i wonder if they are going through and responding to every applicant from the past two+ years??

aok - i've often thought that it would be nice to have a space to show people's work in... be a curator or have a gallery... like melissa has nonesuch. there are definitely some artists that i would like to show.

mike martin is doing it in knoxville.

i did art basel: stuffy's. that was fun showing a bunch of my richmond favorites.

Chris Herbeck said...

hey martin,

this is an insightful post.
in Higgs defense, i will say that we are all guilty of saying things that are later analyzed then repeated and, for good reason, are used against us.

It would be interesting to hear how he would react to said feedback.

I am under the belief that people that say inconsiderate things have a purpose in that they spark DEBATE which is, I believe, a crucial aspect to ART dialog.

without an asshole in the critique session (I have been that before) then the progress of discussion comes to a halt.

let us disagree, and if some one is offended, they must challenge the asshole instead of just calling them an asshole.

I think what's most important is honesty.

...and you know what they say about opinions.

Anonymous said...

hi arnheim.

well, i'm not calling him an asshole. i have no idea what he's like...

his personality doesn't interest me, and assholes don't bother me so much anyway.

BUT.. i am just PISSED to find out that artists, many artists, who have been submitting to that thing for more than two years have been completely totally blown off, EVEN after they (more than one), followed up with e-mails and phone calls.

and his reaction to this "feedback", or somebody's reaction, has been to FINALLY get back to at least two of those artists (the ones who commented on the previous post)... but only after that public calling out.


Anonymous said...

Hey. I finally got my rejection. I was expecting it.

Anonymous said...

After a few months I got a rejection too.
It was an encouraging one though.
By the way, there were over 7000 applicants!
I guess it will take him a while to go through them all.

Anonymous said...

I just got my rejection,too,but I was not even finished with my application. I started my application a month ago, added more last night, and got the rejection the same evening! Reading this blog, and from the letter, it feels like he rejected many out of sheer overload. The question is, if I feel like it, there is no date given when I can apply again. I'll wait for the next Director.

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