I don’t always love going to gallery openings — but you do get to meet the artists. I like that Gilbert & George refer to everyone outside of the two of them as “the enemy.” I presume that means me, too.
The I.H.T.’s new Rendezvous blog means that I sometimes hwrite my articles twice. I do my proper critique — usually a carefully penned 1,000-1,300 words — that appears in the proper paper edition. Then I do a snappier, more casual 300-400 word thing for the I.H.T. blog.
The pro of the longer article is that, well, it’s a proper article. I worry if the craft of writing (and thinking) is getting lost, as the younger generation depends almost entirely on very short social media posts. Also “proper” print articles are more carefully edited than the quickly posted stuff that just goes through a web producer.
The pro of the Rendezvous post is that we can put more links, video, etc. Plus, it has an RSS feed. One complaint I hear is that people have a hard time following a particular writer on The New York Times website unless they’re scouring the whole thing all the time. Since all N.Y.T. and I.H.T. material from all over the world goes to one place, it’s easy for smaller articles to get lost.
And art has a hard time competing with war, politics and business.
Once that’s all done, I put my writing here on Joyceyland, my personal blog.
It feels a little weird to be doing everything in triplicate.
I guess, if I were really ambitious about self-promotion, I’d be tweeting and pinging every time I wrote, but I don’t bother. I figure if people want to read my stuff, they’ll come here. (This is probably why I’ll never become really well-known — as everyone knows, it’s all about promotion).
Speaking of promotion, the new White Cube gallery opening was a PR mad-house. I hinted at it in my I.H.T. article(s), but I can be more straightforward here — it was one of the most pretentious opening parties I’ve ever been to. That’s saying alot, since I’m an arts writer. I spend much time hanging out with people far, far richer than I, buying things that are equal to my entire year’s salary, so I’m no stranger to pretension.
It wasn’t White Cube’s fault. It’s their job to get the biggest crowd they can, with the most buzz and the most buyers. They definitely succeeded at that.
And, from a measly critic’s point of view, they were a joy to work with. They were friendly, down-to-earth, organized and open with information. Since they’re from London — which has a famously critical press — they didn’t do the smarmy Hong Kong thing of insisting on seeing articles in advance (which I never do) or trying to force me to guarantee that I’d only write positive things (which I also never do). * There’s a reason I am not universally loved among PR folk.
So they’re not responsible for the high number of hipsters ironically wearing bowties (you’d figure Donald Tsang would have shot that fashion trend out of the water by now) or the Chinese rich guys’ pretty dates who were so clueless they didn’t even know who the artists were.
I’ve been writing about art in Hong Kong since I started at HK Magazine in 2000 — long before Art Walk, ARTHK, international big names, or anything fashionable at all. Then, there were a handful of modest galleries in SoHo and Central, selling mostly Asian stuff for reasonable prices. In 2000, a struggling young journalist in her mid-20s could afford to buy art, albeit on monthly installments. Now, forget it unless you have a rich daddy or husband. Even when I became the SCMP’s art editor in 2003, it wasn’t trendy like it is now.
Even back then, I didn’t like openings. Again, I’m not blaming galleries, whose job it is to promote and sell their art. I just didn’t like standing around with a bunch of drunk people who would never go to a gallery otherwise, and would stand in front of the art (so I couldn’t see it).
I’d only go to openings if I was writing a story and wanted to catch some color for my article, or chat with the artist, or get some quotes from the gallery owner.
Otherwise, I’d wait for some random Tuesday afternoon and go anonymously. Since all I really cared about was the stuff on the walls.