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book spotlight: the work of art by alison gerber

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workofart

The Work of Art is a new book by Alison Gerber, a sociologist who studies the sociology of culture. The book is a great exploration of how artists manage the self. This is an important issues because artists are pulled in different directions. Sometimes, artists are supposed to by guided by aesthetic values, at other times market values. The profession of the visual arts is a great place to explore this tension since the art profession in the West has undergone three phases – craftsperson, romantic genius, and art world professional. The book explore how these logics are expressed and blended with interviews with about 80 living, contemporary artists.

So what do we learn? First, Gerber reminds us, as many scholars have, that artists don’t starve, but they usually don’t make a lot of money either. In fact, they often make a loss when it comes to the production and sale of art. So while there are narratives of investment, they are about investment in values and biographical trajectories, less often about “making it” in a traditional sense. Second, there seems be a clustering of values among artists, where particular attitudes about the financial and aesthetic tend to go together. I thought this was a very subtle discussion of how conflicting attitudes toward the art world and pricing of art are expressed.

For me, and for most readers I suspect, the highlight of the book is a concluding chapter called “The Audit of Venus,” which recounts the tale of an artist named “Venus” who got into a dispute with the IRS. A musical performer and visual artist, Venus would submit to the IRS expenses related to touring and the production and sale of art. The IRS office in Venus’ area did not buy it and tried to reclassify the activity as a “hobby” so that Venus couldn’t claim it and thus have to pay taxes. Venus eventually and rightly won but the questioning of art as a real job has not only economic but also social consequences. It caused many people anxiety. Since so much of art is a business with scant financial rewards, having it recognized as a real job or profession offers a certain level of respect and consolation. To remove that designation is not only economic damaging, but needlessly maligns a group of people whose only sin is pursue an activity that isn’t as profitable as some others.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

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Written by fabiorojas

December 8, 2017 at 5:01 am

book spotlight: culture and commerce by mukti khaire

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khaire_book

A very,  very long time ago, Mukti Khaire was a guest blogger at orgtheory. Since then, she’s been a successful management researcher at the Harvard Business School and Cornell Tech. It is thus a great pleasure for me to read her new book Culture and Commerce: The Value of Entrepreneurship in Creative Industries. The book is a contribution to both the study of art markets and the study of entrepreneurship. The book’s premise is that art and business exist in a sort of fundamental tension. Khaire’s goal is to offer an account of what entrepreneurship means in the world of artistic markets.

The key element of Khaire’s theory is that artistic goods are not only introduced by entrepreneurs, but entrepreneurs do a lot of work to reshape markets so they can accept radically new categories of goods. For example, getting people to accept high quality, but expensive, produce is the work that Whole Foods did in the grocery market about twenty years ago. Such people, who reshape old markets into new markets, Khaire calls “pioneer entrepreneurs.” Similarly, Khaire identifies people who add value because of their ability to provide commentary to products that need explanation.

The strong point of Culture and Commerce is that Khaire digs deeper into the production chain of artistic goods. There are market actors who specialize in bringing in the new products, those who specialize in educating the audience, and those who add quality signals (e.g., giving awards). It’s a very rich account of entrepreneurship that many blog reader will enjoy. Recommended!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

 

Written by fabiorojas

November 28, 2017 at 5:08 am

sense8: a damaged masterpiece

Note: This post is rated G, but the show I talk about is rated R. Definitely NSFW!

I want to talk about Sense8, which got cancelled after two seasons, way before its plot lines were resolved. The Netflix original series is about eight people who come to learn they are all linked through psychic powers. They can borrow each other’s skills and memories. Not only does Sense8 have a neat premise, but the execution is superb. The Wachowskis, who direct and write the show, were able to shoot in *eight different cities* and seamlessly integrate the different story lines. They also recruited an amazing cast of actors, many international stars to fill out the series.

Not only is Sense8 a masterpiece of photography and production, the Wachowski’s reach new levels of maturity in their writing. By allowing the eight characters to see through each other’s eyes, they can explore identity and emotions in novel ways. For example, while I have seen many excellent films and television shows with LBGT themes, the show is the first, for this straight male, to effectively communicate the difficulties of LGBT people from a very interior perspective. In other words, when I watch a show with strong LGBT characters, I can appreciate the struggles and challenges they face. However, for me, Sense8 is the first show that provides straight viewers with rich metaphors and an emotional language for thinking about the first person experiences of people who have a non-heterosexual identity. That’s a real testament to the skill of the writers.

Another deep issue is that Sense8 is truly global. It has great American characters, and America is depicted in a great way, but it is not *centered* on America. We can see beautiful people living amazing, but connected, lives all over, from Kenya to Seoul. In another testament to the writers’ skill, the show rarely, if ever, veers into an uncritical multiculturalism. Rather, Sense8 excels when it grounds a story in multiple, simultaneous locations, suggesting that the story plays out in specific ways for each character, but still nods to the fact that people form a true global community, even if it is conflicted and tense.

Sadly Sense8 got cancelled after two seasons, so this uncanny story of eight linked empaths might never get the proper treatment it deserves. The good news is the Netflix allowed the team to do a wrap up movie and, if it proves popular enough, maybe a final  third season. But still, I don’t think it will be enough, given the major issues that were raised in the first two seasons and the format where each of the eight major characters gets a lot of attention. Still, I am glad we have this work and if you are a fan of ambitious art and television, I suggest you check it out.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

Written by fabiorojas

November 20, 2017 at 5:01 am

dali 17: a review of the dali museum of monterey, california

Dali museum

Dali 17” is the new museum of the work of Salvador Dali in Monterey, California. Technically, it’s a “permanent exhibition” in the renovated Maritime Museum, but for all purposes, it is the new Dali museum of the West Coast. I visited it a while back and I’d like to tell you about it.

Dali 17 is the home of the Dali collection of local business man Dmitry Piterman. Recently, Piterman became a huge art fan and amassed a rather impressive collection of Dali’s works. Eventually, he decided to house them in the Maritime Museum building. In this review, I’ll with a few words about the basic experience and the make recommendations for three types of people, casual art fans, hard core art fans, and Dali fanatics.

What you will find: Monterey, California  is a tourist town and the museum building is in the Fisherman’s wharf area. So if you are already on vacation, it’s easy to stop by. The Dali 17 occupies 2 floors and houses mainly editions (prints, lithographs, and some other things). The flow is easy. Just walk through floor one, then up to floor two and you’ll be done. I think the ticket is a teeny bit pricey ($20 for adults), but if you slow down and take your time, you’ll get your money’s worth. I don’t think it’s for kids, since a lot of the material is historical.

Casual fans: I think this is a nice introduction to surrealism, from one of the leading practitioners. There is a lot of material from the 1930s to the 1970s. It doesn’t cover the earliest stuff, nor the very last stuff, but it is a good representation of his work. Though there aren’t paintings, viewers can see high quality prints of some of his most important works, like The Persistence of Memory. I also think this is good for casual fans since you get a lot of prints and lithographs from his more overtly religious work from the 1950s and on, which many people can identify with.

Regular art fans: Sadly, this museum doesn’t offer much for people who already know about Dali and are not fanatics. There are literally no paintings and almost no original drawings. Nor are there any of his more interesting sculptures, jewelry or video work (yes! Dali did some interesting early video). Since it is a Dali only museum, there is almost nothing else to compliment or contextualize the collection. Thus, a collection of editions on paper can appear monotonous. I think it is worth seeing, but I wouldn’t blame an art fan if they passed on this one.

Dali fanatics: I am a Dali fanatic and I think this is a great collection for the Dali obsessed. The basic issue is that Dali produced an enormous amount of work. He was a workaholic, his wife consistently pushed his work, and he never turned down a gig. So Dali’s hand can be found in areas ranging from jewelry, Disney films (yes!) and clothing design. Thus, a collection of paper editions can yield interesting insights. For example, I did not know he produced a series of works celebrating the 20th anniversary of the State of Israel. Another example: there is an utterly amazing etching from about 1934 of the “kneeling man with drawers.” Dali fans know that his is his best period in terms of pure drawing technique and, though be it small, the etching does not disappoint. A real gem. I also want to throw in a good word for the lobby. It has a photo display documenting a dinner Dali hosted for West Coast celebrities, which included serving Bob Hope a plate of live frogs. Fun stuff. Overall, a “must see” for those who dream of burning giraffes.

So check it out. I enjoyed it. I hope you will too.

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Written by fabiorojas

June 6, 2017 at 12:01 am

Posted in art, fabio, uncategorized

gerri allen plays soul eyes

 

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Written by fabiorojas

July 31, 2016 at 12:26 am

Posted in art, uncategorized

another week comes to an end, with Attwenger

Need some dance moves for your upcoming conference outings?  Happy Friday, folks.

“OIDA” by Attwenger.  Directed by Jessica Hausner.

(Maybe our German readers can tell us what this OIDA song is about?)

Written by katherinechen

July 29, 2016 at 3:49 pm

w.e.b. dubois’ illustrations of black social science data

duboisdata03-768x965

The website Hyperallergic has a nice article on the drawings that DuBois’ did visualizing some of his data. For a 1900 exhibition, DuBois made, by hand, these interesting visualizations. Tufte, eat yer heart out!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

July 11, 2016 at 12:01 am