Players & Makers
When first confronted with the task of finding out the problems surrounding the art world, we quickly discovered how naive we were about the commercial art world. On a mission to better understand the art world, the group conducted interviews with UAL staff and practising professionals to find out the exact problems that were being faced. People we spoke to include artist John Armleder, curators Nora Heidorn, Elliot Burns and director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Touria El Glaoui. From these conversations, there was a consensus that many elements of the economic system needs to be rethought.
With this information, the group saw it was most effective to understand how these problems of the art model impact them and their current position as students. What does a broken art fair model mean to students? How do students position themselves in the art world? How can students have agency in the Art World?
These questions would lead to Players and Makers, a roundtable talk at Central Saint Martins with guests Angie Illman, Calum Hall, Jacob Willer, Maura Derossis, Liam Newnham, Stephanie Dieckvoss and Suwen Huang. The roundtable discussed the relationship between academia and the art world and was moderated by members of ARtCH who led the conversation using research and data collected from students by the MA CCC group.
The group asked students from UAL and beyond three main questions:
Why did you choose to attend art school?
What are your feelings about the art market?
What questions do you have for art professionals?
The responses were framed to pose questions at a diverse table of professionals with different roles in the art world. The roundtable was divided into themes
Art school as a commercial institution
The art world and elitism
How do we value art
The role of the curator and new academic disciplines
The future of the industry
The first theme was understanding that art schools operate like commercial institutions making students part of the art world. The table agreed that in many ways art school doesn’t prepare students for the art world. This developed the conversation to question the role of academic institutions and the purpose of the art school curriculum. It also led the table to confront issues present in these institutions such as inequality and elitism which can be fueled by intersections of class, race and gender. The topic of elitism naturally made the roundtable guests talk about how art is valued and who has the power in deciding ‘good art'. The rise of digital technologies and social media, in particular, proved that there is a new model where artists can directly connect with customers which made us debate the position of curators and emerging roles in the art world. The talk came to close thinking about the future of the industry.
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