A coffee table book for the coffee house

Past Project 2014

Trusting colleagues with some of your more incendiary opinions can feel like a dangerous thing: loose lips sink ships, and a career might take a decade to build but a moment to ruin.

The art world is awash with opinion, speculation and dissent shared between small, often tiny, networks of individuals.  Often, these opinions don’t get very far; a kind of art world omertà provides shelter to individuals but cuts them off from like-minded colleagues, stymying controversy and hindering debate.  In an age when the art world is facing multiple and serious financial and cultural threats, it feels more urgent than ever to find the courage to polemicise and problematise in the open, and agree on the problems, if not the solutions.

In the summer of 2013, Artquest asked six artists and arts professionals to write bold essays about their experience of the art world.  This resulting publication provides a constructive vent to some of the pent-up frustration, disagreement, and just plain anger that artists and arts professionals feel with the machinations of the art world and its relationship with the rest of reality.  Following art world protocol all contributions are anonymous so as not to distract from the opinions and suggestions they contain.  These essays explore how money travels through the arts, how political impetus in practice has faded, how our Government sees us, how the daily grind can impact on emotional health, and how we might even be our own worst enemies.

This publication aims to provoke and rally, to point out some inconsistencies, and to provide a platform for some of the discussions artists are having.  The artists we asked to write were given free rein – so some of what follows we agree with, some we don’t.

Artists live in an imperfect world, but at least can talk about it constructively and find common places to start to change it for the better.  I hope you’ll join in.