Time For Action
These are Dickensian times in the arts world. Across the boroughs, grand new art centers are being planned, opened, and expanded, but meanwhile, here in Williamsburg at least, artists are being evicted at an alarming rate. Although there is no direct link between these two processes, together they lead in a frightening direction: New York City might become an arts capital without artists.
Such a scenario cannot be wished away, without means that the vulnerable parties here, as elsewhere, have only one recourse: to organize. This idea may run contrary to the artist’s individualist temperament, but consider the alternative. A place to live and work is indeed worth whatever personal “sacrifice” such a struggle might entail. Any alliances in defense of artists’ spaces need not, or make that definitely should not, result in a wave of self-pitying depictions of the “homeless artist.” That’s been done, and nobody we know longs for its return.
A call to join together around a collective interest is another way of saying that it is not inevitable for artists to serve as the advance guard, then victims of gentrification. This is the process witnessed in SoHo, then the Lower East Side, and now in several parts of Brooklyn. Quite obviously, artists are not t he only, nor in any way the most dispossessed victims of gentrification, and it is true that they will more than likely land on their feet. Yet the relatively privileged status of artists vis-à-vis poorer city residents is hardly a reason to sneer at a campaign in defense of commercial living spaces. If Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn want to sustain their reputations as places where the arts genuinely thrive, something provocative needs to be done for change. One need only to visit other interchangeably gentrified terrain across the city to know that such is not the legacy that artists want to leave behind.
Some possible directions for action crop up forthwith. Check ‘em out, and get back to us with your solutions. Surviving creatively, whether as an artist, writer, filmmaker, or cultural worker of any sort, is increasingly difficult in this era of ludicrous rent. No matter how uniquely individualist our visions may be, the recession-proof, ever-expanding bottom line on the rent check should hopefully unite us all-a Capraesque ending, to be sure.
With this issue, the print Rail ventures into the worlds of books, theater, and film, of which we promise more in future issues. In the meantime, we invite you to a reading of The Tempest, produced by our pal John Merchant, at Ocularis on Tuesday, January 23rd, at 8:00 p.m.
And, oh, before I forget, Happy Holidays!
Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass IncarcerationBy Adriana Furlong
MARCH 2021 | ArtSeen
Throughout Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, we can see artists, some currently incarcerated, emerging from indeterminacy, indicating and reconfiguring an existence in constant threat of being snuffed out.
Georgia O’Keeffe: To See Takes TimeBy Rebecca Schiffman
MAY 2023 | ArtSeen
In the eyes of the profound American artist Georgia OKeeffe (1887-1986), a single artwork cant always fully express the complexity of its subject: sometimes it takes a few tries. Up now at MoMA is a wonderful expansion of that idea in Georgia OKeeffe: To See Takes Time, featuring more than 120 works on paper spanning five decades of the pioneering artist's career.
Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass IncarcerationBy Darla Migan
MARCH 2021 | ArtSeen
Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration is an exhibition of more than 35 artists interrogating the logics of the carceral system
A Language Cairn: Artists on Their PracticeBy Charlotte Kent
MAY 2023 | Art and Technology
Because this month I had the honor of acting as Guest Editor for the Critics Page, where I invited global curators and scholars to contribute a word theyd like to see or never see again in the discourse around art and technology, I thought I would develop this months column around the words that artists use and encounter about their practiceacross media. So I asked them what silly, uncomfortable, or productive term they encountered. It could be something said to them or something they say to themselves. Leaving aside the linguistic debates around performative utterances, words act around art as a network of ideas, a system if you will, or a kind of scatterplot of imaginative relations.