Art as Experience

I have talked in previous posts about how I’ve been thinking a lot about money in relation to my art at the moment. It’s sad that we need to think about this, but the fact is that, if I’m gong to spend as much time as it takes to make beautiful and interesting art, then I need to receive money from somewhere. The model I’ve been following in the past, the one that ended up making me feel angsty and disillusioned, was to spend several hundred hiring out a venue then hope that I sell a couple of pieces to at least make my money back. Obviously exhibitions are also the primary way that we let people see and enjoy our work and to raise our profile as an artist. The fact is that most people don’t buy art, and very few people go to a gallery with the intention of even considering making a purchase. Even if people can afford it, there are only so many pieces of art you can buy until you run out of space! I feel like this is a strange conflict of interests – I make work for people to enjoy and engage with, yet in order to make this possible I have to focus on trying to make sales.

I think that one of the issues is that the understanding of what we’re producing and selling isn’t correct. I’ve seen myself as creating objects, but in reality for most people art is an experience they have rather than an object they own. Therefore might it not be more sustainable and more interesting to find ways to focus on art as experience, and to sell the experience for a small amount to each person rather than a large amount to one? Of course for performance artists this is already what they do a lot of the time, but I have very little desire to be a performer, and I think it would be possible to try and adapt these models for visual art and installations with less of a focus on performance. I spent many years as part of a collective organising queer events with bands and performers here in Bristol (it was called FAG club and it was awesome), and I’m sure it would be possible to use the lessons from these sorts of events to create something new and exciting that would support visual artists and give people access to some awesome art.

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