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Chief Editor

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Art Editor

Online Editor

Picture Research

Picture Research

The year 2020 has already seen a set of paradigm-shifting global events: the increased awareness of the climate crisis following Australian bushfires, the wave of social changes such as the denunciation of centuries-long discrimination with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, marked by countless victims and strict lockdown measures taken throughout the world. As witnesses of these truly historical moments and changes, the students of the Christie’s Education Masters courses in London and New York have approached the creation of this final issue of C# with a question in mind: what future are we building on the foundations that are our past, and how can art respond to this? Art is a time machine, a time capsule, a time warp: it shapes our understanding of what has been and what is to come. Depictions of the past, present and future confirm what we know and teach us what we do not. Whatever the means, the media or the movement, art in its many guises is integral to our understanding of our environments, our situations and ourselves as sentient beings with an astounding capacity for cognition and creation. While offering points for reflection on such topics as ethnic minorities, gendered spaces, censorship and unequal distribution of power in the art world, students were keen on showing the potential of art and the art world in offering some solutions to these central issues. We hope that readers delight in the critical, creative and engaging pieces in this edition, offering an insight into the obscured, surreal realm that we know as the art world. Through a variety of formats – interviews from artists and alumni of the school, academic and critical essays, business proposals, original artworks and a poem – students have chosen to show that art is powerful, enlightening, fascinating... that art is human. Accordingly, we are extremely thankful to all the students – writers and editors – from London and New York, without whom this issue would not be what it is. As students of Christie’s Education, we have had the privilege of exploring this world, developing our own fresh perspectives which would not have been possible without the unparalleled expertise of our lecturers. The whole editorial team would also like to thank Ben Street for his invaluable advice and continued support, Belinda Moore for her mastery of design, as well as all artists and art professionals who have given their time to share their experience and valuable advice. It is an honour to introduce the last edition of C# magazine...


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AN OLD MASTER SEEN WITH FRESH EYES Taking the form of a bull, the God Jupiter races across the ocean, abducting the terrified Goddess Europa. Grasping his horn with one hand, Europa waves a red silk veil with the other, turning back to the shore, making one final, desperate call for rescue. A single breast lays exposed through her sheer white drapery and her legs are bare and half-open, eroticising the act of violence. The bull’s eyes gleam through the darkness, meeting the viewer’s gaze, daring them to interfere with his brutal act of passion. This is Titian’s Rape of Europa – the climax of a series of six monumental mythological paintings commissioned by King Philip II of Spain in 1550. Phillip granted Titian, the most highly regarded painter of the time, free rein in his choice of subject matter, and the aging artist knew how to appeal to the desires of his most prestigious patrons. The commission culminated in a series of large canvases inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, striking in their audacity and demonstrating a heightened drama of power and passion. Titian called them his poesie: visual poetry. In March 2020, the National Gallery reunited Titian’s poesie paintings for the first time in 450 years for their landmark exhibition Titian: Love, Desire, Death. Because of the global pandemic of Covid-19 – incidentally Titian himself died of the plague around 1576 – the exhibit closed shortly after opening. Many were deprived of the chance to appreciate some of the most beautiful works of art ever produced. However, a new modern take on the idea of art exhibitions allows for appreciation even from the comfort of our own homes: the documentary. This allows for a greater degree of context, elevating the audience’s appreciation beyond the visual to a more holistic understanding of both the work and the artist. The documentary Titian: Behind Closed Doors gathered art historians, classicists, artists, life models, and curators to guide the audience through a comprehensive exploration of Titian and his poesie. Discussions about of the artist, the commission, and the works generate a deeper understanding, and offer an accessible approach that does not rely upon a background in art. Furthermore, the documentary raises important questions about the relevance of these works today. They were initially intended to be shown privately to an exclusively male

audience. The dominance of naked female flesh present in each of the paintings aims to tempt the presumed heterosexual male viewer to surrender to the magic of the Goddesses’ alluring coquetry. They tactfully draw the royal viewer into the action, and without knowing it he falls into the role of a lover – quite appealing to a young monarch. The passing of four centuries has predictably altered the reception of these works. The classical poet Ovid is no longer part of the cultural background of people interested in fine arts, and is more often reserved for classicists and specialists. Scenes from Metamorphosis may appear peculiar to contemporary interpreters, who are likely to embark on an unachievable hermeneutical quest. But more pressingly, the objectification of the female nude, alongside the unsettling merging of passion and violence – as portrayed in The Rape of Europa – present themselves as particularly problematic in light of contemporary values. Titian’s depiction of feminine fragility may be unfashionable by today’s standards, but it offers us a glimpse of a period with different values and that in itself is valuable – there is no future without a past. Furthermore, The Rape of Europa confronts us with a scene of sexual violence. Although the painting falls within the conventions of symbolism and allegory, and not of historical narration, many may find it problematic and old-fashioned. However, the confrontation allows us to face the issue directly. Violence against women has fortunately decreased since the time when these paintings were produced, but sadly, it has not been eradicated. Looking at, acknowledging, and recognising acts of violence is not only preferable to closing our eyes to it, but it is also our moral duty. Behind Closed Doors does not neglect the tremendous aesthetic qualities of the paintings, and their beautiful ocean of colours and forms duly receive admiration. However, it is Titian’s capacity to upset our perceptions and stir our convictions that elevates them to the level of masterpieces. Questioning our most innate drives and reevaluating our views on the world becomes possible when standing in front of the poesie. That is precisely what great works of art should do.




After years of visiting art institutions, I don’t think I stopped to consider gallery attendants as a whole until our Christie’s Education study trip to Los Angeles in February 2020. Not only did we visit institutions such as commercial galleries, private and public museums, but we also visited Christie’s LA site, art fairs, a private home, an artist’s studio, a workshop, and joined a street art tour. Moving through the various spaces, I was increasingly mindful of the different gallery attendants. It pleased me to see the diverse range – in age, race, and gender – of employees in the galleries. If they do not already, institutions should consider gallery attendants as part of their communication and marketing strategy. Institutions should consider what type of message they want to convey and what audiences they want to reach. Whether they realise it or not, gallery attendants serve more than safeguarding or customer service purposes. Oftentimes, an institution’s group of volunteers can be reflective of their visitor demographic. It could be reflective of their wider hiring practices in general. If gallery attendants are purely based on volunteers, then it is not surprising that perhaps those with the time to ‘volunteer’ their time are older, retired citizens with ample time and can afford to not take a paid position. Perhaps those institutions with a diverse roster of gallery attendants have the luxury of paying their attendants and training them.

Here are some of my observations: Galleries – Many of the staff usually sit behind a desk. They are young, maybe in their early 20s; the formality of their attire may correlate with the type of gallery or management. Perhaps because these are commercial spaces, it is common for the display rooms to be empty of staff or attendants. Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art – Some of the attendants I saw here look like they could be in their 30s. They have a uniform blue button-up, but they are free to use their own clothes for trousers or skirts, as long as they are a dark colour, possibly black. The Broad – I was shocked to see so many attendants in a relatively small space. In my experience, it is rare to see more than one person in each space. At times, there would be two or three attendants standing together. The Broad seems to hire across all ages and they seem to come from a diverse range of backgrounds. All the staff wear black, but they are free to use their own clothes. The Huntington – The attendants seem to be older and comprise of retired Caucasian volunteers. I noticed more male gallery volunteers than female. They all wear green jacket uniforms. They are very keen to speak with you and want to share their knowledge, as I was approached by a few attendants who wanted to share what they knew about the room or the works. The Norton Simon Museum – The attendants here are more similar to the Huntington that they wear a blue blazer uniform. However, the attendants were younger than the ones in the Huntington, possibly 20s to 40s. There was more of a sense of formality here compared to the Broad.





What would be the one piece of advice you have received during your time at Christie’s Education that you regularly still refer to in your profession? Network, network, network. Get out there and meet people. Ask lots of questions. There are all sorts of ‘hidden’ careers in the visual arts. I have found people within the arts very open to taking time to have a 30-minute coffee. Take notes and always end the conversation with the question: Is there anyone else you think I should know? At the very least you’ll get another contact to pursue, but you might also get an introduction. Is there any one tool or website that you use regularly, and would suggest as an essential to those entering the art world? In my experience, the best websites for finding job opportunities are the Guardian newspaper, Arts Council England’s job site, Arts Professional, Museum Jobs, University of Leicester Museum Studies Job Desk. To keep myself up to date on what’s going on in the arts, I subscribe to former MP Ed Vaizey’s weekly newsletter (he was former Culture Minister) and Art Journal’s weekly newsletter (US and UK arts news and ideas). Both are good sources of information on the business of the arts and arts policy. I have the Art Newspaper app on my phone and reference it when I want to read about the biggest international exhibitions and arts fairs. I also have a subscription to Hyperallergic for its more political perspective on the arts. What advice would you give your 20-year old self entering the art world? If the things you like to do and are good at don’t fit nicely into an existing career path, make your own.


Where do you see significant changes, developments and innovation for the art world and the art market over the coming years? Artificial intelligence is probably going to have the biggest impact on the art world, as it holds the possibility of capturing the nature of our creativity and producing new original works. We’ve already seen AI programmes that can duplicate the style of Rembrandt. This will present a fundamental challenge for intellectual property law. We also have to worry about bias in data sets. For example, we know that current AI computer vision programmes can’t identify people of colour. The key question to consider is how to leverage the unique aspects of online platforms to offer new types of engagement, rather than simply replicate physical experiences online. Those experiences that allow audiences to curate content and/ or directly engage with artists and curators have received more sustained attention. For your profession within the art world specifically: Where do you think those changes create opportunities and challenges, and how will those likely impact the overall development of your art world sector? As new forms of technologyenabled art practice emerge, there are more possibilities for self-expression. Government policy must recognise new arts forms and ensure they have the opportunity to flourish. Furthermore, arts and culture in the UK suffer from a lack of diversity and so does the tech sector. The biggest challenge I have as Director of Arts Technology and Innovation is to ensure that people from diverse backgrounds are not left out of the art world in the future due to a lack of access to new technologies and lack of influence over digital innovation.



Working with the MCAM students on the development and execution of their theses has always been one of the most rewarding parts of the program for the faculty. The process begins in the spring term with a thesis proposal workshop in which each student develops a thesis topic of their choice. In the workshop they’re encouraged to investigate issues in modern and contemporary art that genuinely interest them. The theses come to fruition over six months of independent research and writing over the summer and fall, a process that evolves more smoothly the more passionate the students are about their topic. Each student is ultimately assigned a thesis advisor, but every faculty member weighs in on every proposal before it’s approved. The thesis is an opportunity for the students to demonstrate their ability to carry out specialized research and find their own voice. The finished bound product is a professional credential they carry with them as they enter the workforce.

Every year the students manage to surprise the faculty with topics that have not previously been chosen, selecting underrecognized artists whose work is currently being reassessed or aspects of the art market indicative of recent trends. Our students have the most current data and are a bellwether of where the conversation around art is going. The unique combination of art market studies and art history in the MCAM program positions them to look objectively at the forces that propel the careers of certain artists while leaving others to obscurity. They have anticipated the surge of interest in Surrealism, responded to the resurgence of interest in feminist issues, and have critically examined immensely popular artists whose nearly mythical status threatens to obscure their art. This year I asked two current MCAM students to write about their thesis topics for C#. Clara Galperin is working on the recent contemporary art phenomenon known as Zombie Formalism, while Martyna Stopyra is investigating sculpture created by Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow, whose artwork addresses the traumatized, diseased female body.




How does an art movement go from being a market darling to a discarded part of the art-historical trash heap in less than a decade? What factors into its rise— what forces put it to bed? And, more importantly, what insights can be gleaned from such a phenomenon? These were some of the questions that arose as I researched process-based abstraction, or, as it more popularly came to be known, Zombie Formalism. Now widely considered no more than an embarrassing blip in the history of New York art, the movement was active (and attractive) from roughly 2008 until its demise around 2014, when a slew of ardent criticism decried it as nothing more than a vacuous resuscitation of Abstract Expressionism’s formal qualities, with none of its radicality. In its hey-day however, Zombie Formalism enjoyed enthusiastic support across the board: these artists —most often young, male and straight out of MFA programs— were being celebrated by serious collectors, galleries, and art-flippers alike, some works hitting more than $300,000 USD at auction. The fact that the movement’s impetus so swiftly came to a grinding halt raises questions about the nature of determining value in contemporary art: how is it evaluated, how does it become established, and why does it endure? Some of the artists associated with Zombie Formalism now enjoy blue-chip representation and ample institutional backing, while others have been left by the wayside, all but forgotten. It is this peculiar and glaring divergence I wish to unpack as an entry point for a thorough assessment of the art world and its machinations. My ambition is to explore the role of commercial and institutional representation in maintaining perceived value in an artist’s oeuvre, the power of press-release rhetoric in inviting new interpretations on an existing body of work, the replacement of process for product as a sign of authenticity, and ultimately, what Zombie Formalism can tell us about the stakes of art making in the contemporary moment.

Jacob Kassay Untitled 2014 Acrylic and silver deposit on canvas 60 x 48 inches (152.4 x 121.9 cm) signed verso JK 394 © Jacob Kassay, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

As a person on the verge of entering a fast-paced, occasionally gimmicky, and often perplexing art world, I was drawn to researching a thesis topic that would allow me to confront how its players relate to one another —how they create and how they destroy— and, most importantly, how artists navigate these often-opaque waters. The mercurial nature of art market hunger has been laid bare in the case of Zombie Formalism, and the Christie’s program affords a uniquely prepared context in which to consider it. The interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum has not only provided me the resources to properly grapple with this subject’s many competing tensions, it has also helped me develop the kind of critical lens needed to tackle the topic in the first place. After all, where else would I be fortunate enough to have an art market scholar, a connoisseurship expert, and an artistturned-world-class-professor at my research disposal?



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IN S S E N L IL D N A A POLITICS OF T RAUM E R U T P L U C S S ’ W O IK N ALINA SZAPOCZ MART YNA STOPYRA Alina Szapocznikow Petit Dessert l, 1970-71 Coloured polyester resin 3 3/16 x 4 5/16 x 5 1/8 in (8 x 11x 13 cm) Private collection, New York Copyright ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy The Estate of Alina Szapocznikow/Piotr Stanislawski/Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris/ Hauser & Wirth. Photo Thomas Mueller, Courtesy Broadway 1602, New York

I was still living in Poland when I first heard of Alina Szapocznikow’s work – her name would be occasionally mentioned during my art history classes, and I would often spot her works in Polish art museums. It is only recently, however, that I became more interested in her body of work. After having lived abroad and studied in the U.S. for the past four years, I have only recently begun exploring the history of the visual culture of my home country, and thus I became interested in the Polish artists of the post-war and contemporary era. Alina Szapocznikow, born in Poland in 1926 to a Jewish family, survived through World War II and the Holocaust and had been imprisoned in Auschwitz-Birkenau, BergenBelsen, and Theresienstadt concentration camps. After the war, she moved between Warsaw, Prague, and Paris, where she eventually settled for the rest of her life in 1963. Sadly, in 1969 Szapocznikow was diagnosed with breast cancer, and ultimately passed away in 1973. What initially drew me to the work of Szapocznikow as a possible topic for my master’s thesis, was my interest in body and gender politics in contemporary art, and particularly in art made by artists who suffered from terminal or chronic illnesses or disability. In my thesis, I decided to focus on the last four years of Szapocznikow’s artistic output to examine how her breast cancer diagnosis and illness would have influenced her oeuvre. Although Szapocznikow’s sculptures had always dealt with the representation of the human body (most often the female body), as the artist grew older (and particularly after her move to Paris), her works based on human forms started becoming distorted, unsettling and grotesque. [ 11 ]

From the mid-1960s Szapocznikow started using plastic resin and other synthetic polymers and began casting her own body parts for her sculptures. After her diagnosis however, Szapocznikow’s works began taking on forms of “objects” or, as she named them in her statement, “awkward objects.” They became smaller in scale and lacked definite bases, and many of them took a form of wall sculptures or sculptural installations, scattered on the floor. The materiality of the synthetic media is likewise important when considering Szapocznikow’s sculptures. By stretching, molding, and coloring the plastic resin and polyurethane, Szapocznikow managed to make some of her works resemble human skin and other organic matter (like for example in the 1969 Krużlowa (Motherhood) or Desserts series). Moreover, the works she produced in the last four years of her life often contain representations of breasts, tumors, and the artist’s self-portraits, further linking the sculptures’ physicality with that of the female and diseased body. During my research, I also have been consulting works of theorists such as Susan Sontag, Elizabeth Grosz, and Bracha Ettinger as I ultimately want to examine the way we can see Szapocznikow’s works in the broader context of the feminist discourse of the body, disability, and disease. I want to propose that Szapocznikow’s works, while clearly referring to the artist’s own bodily condition, can be read as sites which manifest as personal and political experiences of living in a diseased body that is neither western nor male.


‘Mega galleries’: La Grande Bouffe with no ending The commanding position of ‘mega galleries’ is undeniable. Their financial prowess is a persuasive demonstration of their prominence, as Gagosian reportedly systematically realises annual gross sales of $1 billion and other similar galleries (Zwirner, Acquavella, Hauser & Wirth, Pace) claim that their annual gross sales exceed $250 million. In February 2020 it was announced that Gagosian, Pace and Acquavella had secured the right to sell Donald Marron’s art collection (worth $450 million), snatching it from Sotheby’s and Christie’s, who historically would be the only viable options for the estate. The ‘mega gallery’ trio was chosen partially because of reportedly providing a guarantee that exceeds $300 million. Furthermore, their financial capabilities equip ‘mega galleries’ in their pursuit of artists in an unrelenting manner. A case in point is the painter Avery Singer joining Hauser & Wirth after receiving a reported signing bonus of $1 million. Singer was likely motivated by a multitude of other advantages offered by ‘mega galleries’, including second to none exhibition potential. This is considerable: at least six ‘mega galleries’ (Gagosian, Pace, Thaddaeus Ropac, White Cube, Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth) boast more than 100,000 square footage in their global locations. The size of the galleries and their location is enhanced by curators ‘poached’ from the museum sector, who provide spectacular museum-quality exhibitions, as in the case of John Elderfield and Peter Galassi, who after swiftly swapping MoMA for Gagosian curated In the Studio (2015). This exhibition included works on sale as well as loans from 35 museums, foundations, galleries, collectors and private estates, including works by Picasso, Matisse, Lucian Freud and de Kooning.

Mid-size galleries: La Trahison des images The mouth-watering results achieved by ‘mega galleries’ do not necessarily trickle down to mid-size galleries, who increasingly seem to be the paper tiger of the art market. The box office, record-breaking reality of ‘mega galleries’ is becoming increasingly distant to the mid-size galleries. The diminished influence and standing of mid-size galleries is irrefutable. The current market pressures some mid-size galleries into competing with ‘mega galleries’: a game which is almost destined for failure. Emmanuel Perrotin reacted to this pressure by opening his third location in an attempt to retain his artists, but not many mid-size galleries have the financial capabilities to open new locations in response to mounting pressure. The problem is much more fundamental. The increasing gulf between mega and mid-size galleries is partially demonstrated by the fact that in 2018 dealers with annual turnover of sub-$250,000 saw sales decline by 18% and the dealers in the $250,000 to $500,000 bracket saw a decline by 4%. In contrast dealers with turnover of $50 million-plus enjoyed a 7% increase, and the dealers within the $10 million to $50 million category saw a rise of 17%. Furthermore, between 2008 and 2018 the number of galleries opening every year has dropped by 86%. That tendency is worrying. Stefania Bortolami has argued that mid-size galleries “provide a service that the mega galleries have proven over and over again that they cannot, which is nurturing young artists” (italics mine). This notion was echoed by Davd Zwirner, who emphasised his concern that “a few galleries are getting more and more market share and the younger galleries are having a harder time to compete”. Even more, during the Art Leaders Network event in 2018 Zwirner responded to the question “what can smaller galleries do for you?” by saying “they can launch an incredible career that eventually ends up with us”. Marc Glimcher (Pace), Thaddaeus Ropac and Marc Payot (Hauser & Wirth) all agreed as to the need to act. This demonstrates how crucial it is for the art market to have robust small and mid-size galleries.

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: T N E PA YM Artist’s Solidarity Payment: Victoria Concordia Crescit (Victory Through Harmony)

Loie Hollowell Giving Head, 2015 oil on linen on panel Image courtesy of Phillips Avery Singer Platform for Infinite Intervention, 2011 graphite on paper Image courtesy of Phillips

There is no singular solution in tackling the growing disparity between ‘mega galleries’ and mid-size galleries, but a policy that can potentially deescalate the situation from further deteriorating is based on the widespread enforcement of the concept tentatively named the Artist’s Solidarity Payment (ASP). The concept of ASP is inspired by the Solidarity Payment which is a scheme introduced by the world’s football governing body – the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, better known as FIFA – in the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. The programme essentially provides a small percentage (between 0.25% to 5% depending on the numbers years of developing a player) of every player’s transfer fee to the team(s) that raised the player during the period between the age of 12 and 23. The Solidarity Payment is important because rarely does the first (primary) transfer (sale) of a player generate a considerable amount, however the subsequent transfer of the player is likely to be bigger, and under this scheme, small and mid-size clubs which gave the opportunity to the player are subsequently rewarded. Football’s Solidarity Payment offers a persuasive framework for the Artist’s Solidarity Payment given the positive impact in addressing inequalities between clubs from different tiers. There are numerous examples which demonstrate the positive results gained with this scheme.

La Main (Les Remords de conscience): enforcing Artist’s Solidarity Payment to reward mid-size galleries whilst reigniting the vilified Artist’s Resale Right Artist’s Solidarity Payment is inspired by the Solidarity Payment. In the case of the ASP the period of development time could be set between 18 and 29 years old. FIFA set the period to be between 12 and 23 in football, but arguably the 18 to 29 period more reflects the time during which the artist finds his or her voice. The different is that the royalty would be based on each artwork sold in a larger gallery and not from a so-called transfer fee. The payment structure could initially be more lenient as the royalty will be based on a percentage, but in contrast to football it would be capped at €8,500. The very modest upper cap of maximum €8,500 per work sold to the gallery that developed the artist can be justified, as an artist (in contrast with a football player) has more than one asset to sell. The proposed cap is aligned with the upper limit for Artist’s Resale Right royalty payment of €12,500. This association with ARR is motivated by ARR being widely in force. The ARR being entrenched by national legislation in many countries makes the implementation of ASP potentially more swift and more likely to be enforced. The art world does not have an oversight institution equivalent to FIFA. My proposal demonstrates introducing of this scheme through national legislation, making the national governments responsible for enforcing this law. This legislative strength could potentially be introducing the Artist’s Solidarity Payment in form of an amendment to the ARR regulations. The ARR is an intellectual property right introduced in the United Kingdom in 2006 and it is currently in more than 80 countries worldwide. The royalty is based on the resale price obtained from each subsequent purchase of the artwork. ARR is a sensible scheme due to the nature of the primary art market. The story used to illustrate the necessity of ARR is of Jean-Francois Millet who sold his painting The Angelus (1858) for 1,000 francs in 1860. The painting was subsequently sold for 553,000 francs in 1889 and for 750,000 francs in 1890, but despite those results his family lived in poverty. This example can be used in support of the ASP when approached hypothetically. If the first sale of 1,000 francs was on behalf of Millet (so that the dealer got 50%), and later the price sky-rocketed, it would also be extremely severe for the hypothetical dealer of Millet. The limitations of ASP being legally associated with ARR is that ARR is not present in the US, Switzerland and China. This would potentially be a deal-breaker given the fact that the value of the art market in these 3 countries amount to more than 60% of the art market by value. However, there are two arguments suggesting otherwise. Firstly, ASP does not have to be introduced together with ARR in the abovementioned countries. It could be a stand-alone piece of legislation. Secondly, although in many respects ASP might resemble ARR legally, but the practical difference is that there are mechanisms which could influence a different result. For instance ASP would be lobbied for dealers of small, mid-size and ‘mega galleries’ (for example, David Zwirner) and not artists, as in the case of ARR. Even more, there could be a provision that the unpaid ASP is charged when trying to export a work to an ASP-honouring country. Finally, the general consensus on the ASP could potentially reignite ARR given the mutual support. Football’s successful implementation of the Solidarity Payment indicates that ASP would benefit mid-size and small galleries. Consequently, it would also be beneficial for ‘mega galleries’, as firmer financial foundations would embolden a gallery to take more risks when signing and developing young artists. This would bolster the chances for a more diverse representation of artistic expression.

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THE HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE AND WOMEN’S MOBILITY IN LATE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY BRITAIN In the 18th and 19th century – the great age of coach travel in Britain – the carriage acted as symbol of class and status, in the same way that driving a Honda Civic or Rolls Royce does in today’s society. To keep a carriage was a significant expense that was not affordable to most. Used both by men and women, the carriage could appear to elevate women’s access and mobility by removing them from the “private sphere”, the home, a previously defined female-dominated space, and into the “public sphere”, the male-dominated space. Analysis of 18th century paintings and engravings of British country homes and their estates reveal how the house was, for the most part, divided according to perceived gender roles in the house. This genre of painting was common amongst the wealthy and was meant to be aspirational, contributing to the image of the patron’s possessions as well as portraits of their homes and estates. Figures on horseback and passersby of both sexes are often represented, although women are rarely represented on horseback. Workers in the fields belonging to the estate tend to be represented in close proximity to the house, performing domestic tasks such as washing or tending to the poultry and dairy cows. These paintings rarely fail to include the owners’ carriages, recognizable through the family’s coat of arms on the carriage door. Their typical positioning in the foreground of these paintings exemplifies their role as a status symbol, an exterior sign of material wealth. With carriages being entered in country house inventories, we also know that they were regarded as part of the furniture, and as such, at least physically, an

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extension of the household. The writings of 18th and early 19th century female authors such as Jane Austen and Ann Radcliffe epitomize the pervasiveness of the carriage in the contemporary female experience. The carriage’s presence is deep-seated in both authors’ novels and letters, and is often used to convey much more than a means of transportation. Carriage travel, despite its inherent dangers (a close Austen family member was killed in a carriage incident, and Austen’s brother was badly injured when his horse bolted “upsetting his carriage in the middle of Canterbury traffic”) would have presented an opportunity for a woman to escape the confinement of the home. Both Austen and Radcliffe’s narratives make use of the carriage not only as a means to communicate the status and wealth of their characters, but also at times to indicate their sexual satisfaction. In her popular and risqué Gothic novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho (London, 1794), Ann Radcliffe uses the carriagedrive to build an air of sexual tension as Emily St Aubert arrived at Castle Udolpho in the Italian Apennines: “As the twilight deepened, its features became more awful in obscurity, and Emily continued to gaze, till its clustering towers were alone seen, rising over the tops of the woods, beneath whose thick shade the carriages soon after began to ascend. The extent and darkness of these tall walls awakened terrific images in her mind, and she almost expected to see banditti start up from under the trees. At length the carriages emerged upon a heathy rock, and soon after reached the castle gates.”

The phallic references are hard to ignore, yet so is the restraint with which women at the time were expected to speak and write about sexuality and desire, if they were to be perceived as socially acceptable. The proliferation of travel literature written by middleand upper-class women during the Victorian era is surprising. This was, after all, a time when women could neither vote nor find a career that provided financial independence, when married women could not control their money or property, and when etiquette books proliferated by the dozens. Sara Mills, who researches women’s travel writing, invites us to read their texts for the “traces of discursive struggles over the ‘proper’ place of women”5. Although travel was becoming more popular and acceptable for women, the tension between emancipation and adhering to social etiquette remained. The carriage, and the writing on it, embody this tension. Austen and Radcliffe, recognised a certain duality of the carriage as at once symbolic of freedom and mobility, travel and exploration, and at the same time, a tool to keep women confined. Eighteenth-century medicine also supported any female expressing a desire to be driven around a park in a carriage as it prevented them from over extending themselves whilst walking or riding, since women were to be encouraged to take ‘passive’ rather than ‘active’ exercise. Indeed, women’s movements through the city were very much restricted both by means of male chaperonage and through the use of carriages. Danielle van den Heuvel in “Gender in the Streets of the Premodern City” suggests that men were not only more [ 15 ]

visible in the street, but also controlled the conditions under which women could partake in street life. The carriage’s place within society over time is not static. By stimulating progress, technological advances also tend to influence the evolution of social norms and mores. Industrial production brought about a growth of the middle class, and thus a greater availability of the latest technologies in travel to a larger and more varied group of people. By the Victorian era, the carriage was used by the middle and upper middle classes, rather than just the aristocracy. As such, the carriage became no longer simply an exterior sign of wealth but served as a proxy to show social progress and a climbing of the social ladder. This progress of course also impacted women’s experiences of travel. The Victorian era certainly provided better opportunities for women to travel than the late 18th century. But despite this progress, for most women with access to carriages throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the carriage held the promise of new discoveries, adventure, and an illusion of achieved mobility, whilst still confining them to their domesticated environments. The carriage embodied a fantasy of escaping patriarchal society, but in reality, it was merely an extension of the upper class and aristocratic household. That said, whilst not immediately freeing women from their domestic spheres, the carriage was an accelerator of social change, one step in the direction of emancipation.




G N I T N I A P A ( ALI W-I W ) I N A I N I T S U J BY MARK [ 16 ]


Analia Saban. Photograph by Art Streiber

Why do we make art? It’s an age-old question for which we still don’t have a solid answer. For artists like Analia Saban, however, art is made to be scrutinised. Saban’s practice blurs the boundary between painting and sculpture; bringing together art and science, she discovers more questions to be asked of her medium. By stripping art back to its bare bones, Saban explores the physical properties and limits of her materials. The rippling ricochet of concrete in Draped Concrete (2016) pushes this material far beyond its conventional capacity, exploring the physical properties of art. Through works such as these, we enter Saban’s world of questioning. When visiting her studio in South LA, we were forced to question our own knowledge of her artistic materials. Marble seemed to bend like cloth, strips of paint were woven into a canvas, like thread. Paper was cut into such detailed and precise patterns that it seemed like 3D printed plastic. Our questioning continued after visiting Saban’s studio and led us to delve deeper into the criticality of the materiality of art through an emailed interview with the artist.

“In this case, there was such an immediate need for PPE (Protective Personal Equipment) for healthcare workers, I thought, since we have all the tools and know how to make things, why not just take care of it?”

Saban’s practice of being critical of a material’s properties leads to questioning about why those materials are created in the first place. Why is art created? Why do we use the material we use? We are in the middle of an environment that is becoming increasingly industrialised, so how does this speak to our socio-economic history? One question spurs another, reflecting Saban’s authentic and critical execution of art making. In pursuit of questioning materiality, we wondered what Saban does when faced with physical, or creative limitations. How does she manoeuvre around these challenges? We were surprised to learn that she embraces them as the reflection of what is possible at any given time, a moment marked in history to be questioned, [ 17 ]

pushed and challenged. A simple example of canvas making pre-loom days was explained. The size of canvas was limited, approximately an arm’s length. Yet now the limit is dependent on the shipper, the airplane to transport it, the wall which it will be hung on, the building in which it will be housed. Even through restrictions and disappointments, Saban’s acceptance of hard limitations is not a limitation of her practice and it is certainly not the end of criticality. Restrictions do not only come with materials but in society, in the case of pandemics such as Covid-19. As Saban’s studio has flourished and expanded, she has recently transformed this space, in response to the needs of others beyond her studio.

With friend and robotics professor, Curime Batliner, the two met to prototype the shields to commence SHIELD-19. This design is aimed to create a fully recyclable, flat packed and quickly assembled face shield, free of cost and shipping fees. Gemini G.E.L. gifted Saban’s studio a donation in order to expand the project. So far, over 10,000 shields have been produced and sent to clinics, homeless shelters, nursing and related institutions. Saban still manages to maintain a sense of normality, using any remaining time to boost productivity in her studio and research new work. As the artist herself put it, “There will be a life post-pandemic and we should get ready to put our best work forward.”


In the last couple of years, Australian Aboriginal Art has seen an unprecedented increase of success on the global art market. Such artists as Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri have set record prices at auction. These hypnotic and often monumental paintings inspired by mythical “dreamings” of ancient Aboriginal culture have now become part of some of the most important collections in the world, such as those belonging to Tim Fairfax and John and Pauline Gandel. The roots of Aboriginal culture, based on rich artistic, musical and spiritual traditions, dates back at least 40,000 years. This places the traditional “dot-paintings” among the oldest living folklore practices in the world. In the absence of a written language, indigenous culture could communicate from generation to generation only through native tongues and artworks. Although characterized by a diversity of cultural contexts, stylistic approaches, techniques and themes depending on regional contexts, Aboriginal art combined the representation of nature with the translation of local storytelling through coded symbols, patterns and colors. Nonetheless, this vibrant artistic heritage unique to Australia had long been considered “primitive” and was overlooked by the global art market until the late 20th century. Usually featuring vivid natural pigments, vibrant brushstrokes and serial mark-makings, the paintings convey an impression of immediacy. While Aboriginal painting traditions developed outside of any Western influence, their visual and spiritual similarity to the American movement of Abstract Expressionism stirred curiosity in the West. The 1970s marked a true renaissance era for Aboriginal artists, who became a dynamic and significant force not only on a national but also international scale. Some were included in the landmark “Magiciens de la Terre” (Magicians of the Earth) exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1989. This was the first exhibition where artists, previously categorized as “primitive” and hence usually referred to by their ethnographic affiliation only, were labelled as individual makers. The following year marked the first time Aboriginal artists, namely Rover Thomas and Trevor Nickolls, had been selected to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale.

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The 21st century has been an ambivalent period for the market of Australian Art. Until very recently, Australian art has received rather minor attention on the part of the two leading auction houses. However, in recent years, there has been renewed interest for this field from both private and public institutions around the world. Contemporary Aboriginal artworks are regularly included in major surveys of Australian Art. Aboriginal Art fairs now take place, such as the WA Aboriginal Art Market in Perth and the Indigenous Art Market in Canberra. This year’s Sydney Biennale, which unfortunately was forced online by the Covid-19 pandemic, is the first to focus on an exclusively Indigenous theme. Besides, a particular spotlight has been brought to this market through a major two-part non-selling exhibition of contemporary Indigenous artists, entitled “Desert Painters of Australia”, organized by Gagosian in July and December 2019. All these initiatives aimed to reintroduce Australian art on the global market and invited the global public to rethink their perception of this country’s culture, going beyond the distinction of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Art. This worldwide visibility led to several recent record auction sales, which made artworks by Tjapaltjarri and Kngwarreye the most expensive Aboriginal paintings ever sold at auction. Kngwarreye (c. 1910 – 1996) has been particularly in the spotlight these past few years. While her practice gained recognition in Australia during her lifetime, she recently became an international sensation with the 2017 auction sale of her painting “Earth Creation I” (1994) for £1,162,940 – a record marking the highest price achieved at auction for an Australian female artist. Her career as an artist lasted only 8 years, between 1988 and 1996, the year of her death, but during that period, she created more than 3000 paintings. Kngwarreye is displayed in the permanent collection of major Australian art institutions and was awarded an Australian Artists’ Creative Fellowship in 1992 in recognition of her contribution to the cultural heritage of the nation. She posthumously represented Australia at the 1997 Venice Biennale, and her works have toured around the world. This international visibility laid the groundwork for the first Aboriginal Art sale at Sotheby’s New York in December 2019, where her “Summer Celebration” (1991)


What would be the one piece of advice you have received during your time at Christie’s Education that you still regularly refer to?

sold for £360,048 and “Untitled” (1990) for £210,028, consolidating her position on the international market. Tjapaltjarri (c. 1932 – 2002) is one of the most well-known and widely collected Australian Aboriginal artists ever. His efforts to encourage and foster the importance of Aboriginal works of art has set a standard for presentday appreciation. His paintings are held in the most prestigious galleries and collections in Australia and beyond including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Australia, the Kelton Foundation and the Royal Collection. His monumental work “Warlugulong” (1977) reached a record breaking price of £1,438,621 in 2007. Seeing this major paradigm shift, particularly in the last few years, auction houses have been keen on reintroducing specialized Australian Art sales in their calendars. Following its first very successful sale of Aboriginal Art outside of Europe or Australia, which took place in New York in December 2019, Sotheby’s judiciously seems to be making a tradition of holding such a sale annually. Christie’s has been holding Australian Art sales in its London quarters every couple of years, with the latest one in 2019 being relocated to the auction house’s online platform. Until now, they included furniture and artworks by non-Aboriginal artists exclusively. Nonetheless, due to the global trend surrounding this newly rediscovered market, there are high hopes that Christie’s will also uphold such thematic sales and will include artworks by Aboriginal artists in the future. The public and media attention generated by museums and galleries shows have stimulated not only academic research but also a growing collector base. The top Aboriginal artists have not only become household names but also desirable assets for the modern collector. Perhaps the revival of interest for Aboriginal Art around the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s first landing onto the Australian coasts is a mere coincidence. However, one could not deny the pleasure of attributing a symbolic dimension to this, well-deserved and long-overdue, rediscovery of the oldest artistic practice that existed in Australia and one of the richest cultures in the world.


The course especially taught me to really look at an object very closely and carefully, and that the starting point of its valuation should be based on its unique beauty. I also took from the course the importance of a rigorous and thorough approach to the research of each object. Is there any one tool or website that you use regularly, and would suggest as an essential to those starting out in the art world? (1) Old/New Christie’s Catalogues: They are incredibly well researched and offer a great insight on the structures of a sale and the specific components for each lot. (2) Exhibition catalogues: As with the Christie’s Catalogues, they are a valuable, well researched source. A great example would be the catalogue for the 1980 MoMA Picasso retrospective. (3) Artnet and the Art Newspaper: Essentials for every student in the art world, as they provide sound analysis of all areas of the art market.

What advice would you give your 20-year old self entering the art world? Know what makes your heart race, who you are, what you are good at. From there, follow your dream to go on working in the field that most excites you. Where do you identify significant changes, developments and potential innovation for the art world and the art market over the coming years? I am delighted about the ways in which the digital world, which in essence is a very visual one, through offering and sharing content such as that on the Christie’s website, invites and excites new art enthusiasts to participate in the art world.




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As a student of the Art, Law and Business class in New York, I tried to achieve something with my capstone project that will last. It all started in the West Village, more precisely the building of City-As-School, which I passed every day on my commute. Every time I looked at it, I wondered why there was a small part of the six-story building that was painted but did not seem to be finished. The school informed me that the artist Magda Love started the mural a few years back but couldn’t complete it due to financial issues and missing permits from the city. At the same time, Eduardo Kobra, a Brazilian muralist also contacted the school. He was looking for bare walls in New York City to paint during the summer months. The idea of my capstone project was born. As project manager and fundraiser of this endeavor I tried to coordinate the different actors involved while starting a campaign to raise funds in order to complete the mural. Since it is a public school, not only was a formal permit from the Department of Education (DOE) required, but also a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). I started to write a portfolio of the whole project to find donors who would be interested in supporting this venture. Whilst researching for my portfolio, I realized that with a surface of 28.700 square feet, no other mural in New York City has as big dimensions as this one. That’s how the title of my capstone project was born: The Biggest Mural in NYC. During the Summer months, I attended events where I sought potential donors, and in September the permits were finally signed, and I had a budget ($19,000) I could work with. Magda Love and Eduardo Kobra didn’t lose any time with the painting process, which took about two weeks. Magda’s mural, titled Soul Ancestors, depicts a blackhaired girl in the center wearing a pink-yellow striped shirt. She is surrounded by colorful flowers, mushrooms, trees and a cactus. Magda paired the vegetal motifs with a rabbit and a butterfly to underline the theme of nature. Painted above her head, emerging from the third eye on

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the girl’s forehead, are the different moon phases on a dark blue starry night background. Magda sees her mural as a message to all women who are putting their souls in what they do, to remind the viewer to embrace feminine energy, hold each other up high and to work together in a world that is kinder, more loving and more tolerant. The moon cycle represents the passing of time, the process of learning to embrace the good and the bad times that come to our lives. Kobra’s mural is titled Ellis Immigrants and depicts five immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island. His work pairs realistic portraiture with colorful abstract geometric forms. Between 1892 and 1954, Ellis Island served as an inspection station for millions of immigrants arriving to the United States. Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is located across the street on Houston Street, so the iconography of Kobra’s mural reflects its context through the theme of immigration. Finally, Al Diaz and Cern had their turn later in the Fall to paint the middle section. Al Diaz, alumnus of CityAs-School and partner of Jean-Michel Basquiat, tagged their collective name SAMO© at the top of the middle section of the wall. I am proud that the most recent piece by SAMO©, a legend in the street art community, became part of this project, in addition to the two amazing artists for the mural. Street artist Cern painted the middle section of the wall, colorfully relating Magda’s and Kobra’s work, and thus completing the project. The Art, Law and Business program at Christie’s Education enabled and prepared me for such a project, in terms of contracts between the parties, establishment of the budget, networking in order to raise funds, and giving New Yorkers a public artwork in a scale that the city has never seen before. Overall, the creation of The Biggest Mural in NYC was a time-consuming and nerve-racking project, but due to amazing teamwork and a great deal of patience, the project luckily has been a success!


Titian: Love, Desire, Death, which opened at the National Gallery in London in March 2020, brings together a group of paintings, commissioned in 1551 by Prince Philip of Spain, which sensuously visualise classical myths primarily taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The prestigious exhibition promises to reunite all six paintings in the series, from Boston, Madrid, and London, for the first time in over four centuries. The exhibition takes place in the capital of the United Kingdom, a cosmopolitan city and place of cultural hybridity, shaped by ideas of deterritorialization and cultural adaptation, which itself constantly renews its identity. Indeed, current structural changes in the political landscape of the United Kingdom might lead either to a kafkaesque nightmare or an organic metamorphosis. Other shows indirectly related to metamorphosis include the retrospective of Dorothea Tanning’s oeuvre at Tate Modern in 2019 and the upcoming exhibition dedicated to Auguste Rodin at the same institution in autumn 2020. Both celebrate artists capturing states of becoming in works that incorporate traces of their genesis. Louise Bourgeois in Focus, opening at Tate Liverpool in summer 2020, features significant works realised over her 70-year career, marking the 20th year since her monumental spider sculpture Maman—a contemporary revision of the myth of Arachne—inaugurated the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. The concept of metamorphosis derives from the Latin narrative poem entitled Metamorphoses, written by the Roman poet Ovid in 8 AD. Caroline Bynum, an American scholar of medieval history, defines metamorphosis as the “change of one body into another or change of species”. Such understanding of metamorphosis is further highlighted in the opening lines of Metamorphoses, as Ovid writes: ‘I intend to speak of forms changed into new entities.’ Since its publication, Ovid’s Metamorphoses has been a significant source of inspiration to writers and artists. Numerous episodes from the poem have been depicted in works of literature, sculpture and painting over a wide time span. Ovid continues to plant ideas in the minds of modern artists as demonstrated through paintings like Salvador Dalí’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937) and John William Waterhouse’s Echo and Narcissus (1903). Art historian Paul Barolsky has observed that the “transformation of the verbal into the visual is an artistic metamorphosis, art as metamorphosis of one medium into another.” Therefore, artists are not only echoing the works of Ovid but generating transformations themselves. Additionally, while works of art provide a visual component to the metamorphic narratives, they also seek to stimulate the audience’s senses. Visually catching a moment of metamorphosis or the end of a process—an enterprise which defies the inherently static nature of traditional artistic media—the works of art invite a similarly transformative or cathartic experience in their viewers.

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Modern, post-war and living artists, some of them exploring notions of postcolonialism, hybridity and globalisation, directly reiterate Ovid’s morphing stories of deities and mortals. Another significant subtheme constitutes the biological or entomological aspects of metamorphosis, as seen in Maria Sibylla Merian’s studies of insect metamorphosis. Traces of this influence can be seen in Surrealist works by Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró and Dorothea Tanning. In these works, human forms, flora, fauna and the inanimate intermingle as part of a pantheist aspiration to bridge boundaries between mankind and nature, and attain a primordial state of being which predates consciousness. However, metamorphosis and hybridity are fundamentally disparate. The former refers to a constant narrative, a process of becoming where one shifts from one entity to another, and the latter suggests a double meaning, that contains two or more entities at once. Therefore, the beauty of metamorphosis resides in the ephemerality of the shifting moment of entity from one to another. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Oneself as Another To what extent can Ovid’s narratives, written more than 2000 years ago, still speak to 21st-century viewers? They arise out of encounters where an external or ‘othering’ gaze induces a change in a character’s self-perception. Likewise, notions of doubling, mirroring or evolving forms are at the heart of Ovid’s metamorphic poems: as entities are switching categories in the liminal progress of metamorphosis, identity is confused. (Idealised) self-image and understanding of one’s own identity, as epitomised by the myth of Narcissus’ unfulfilled longing to be unified with his reflection, form the core of Ovid’s literary enterprise and find echoes in modern-day virtual platforms and increasing emphasis on physical appearance. Since the Renaissance theorist Leon Battista Alberti defined Narcissus as ‘the inventor of painting’ in his treatise De Pictura (1435) – “What is painting but the act of embracing by means of art the surface of the pool?” – numerous thinkers such as Sigmund Freud (On Narcissism, 1914) or Rosalind Krauss (Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism, 1976), and artists have reflected

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on the symbolic meaning of mirrors which offer multiple angles to the concept of self-knowledge. From Caravaggio to Cy Twombly and Gillian Wearing, via Claude Cahun, Salvador Dalí and Dora Maar, a plethora of works demonstrate this continuing appropriation or demythification of Ovid’s foundational plot. Showcasing consanguinity with regards to this leitmotif of self-reflection and identity, modern, post-war and contemporary illustrations of Ovid’s myths invite viewers to evaluate to what extent an external or internalised gaze constructs the formation of subjectivity and can impose an “alienating armour,” according to Jacques Lacan’s theory of the mirror phase developed in the late 1940s. On the other hand, artists such as Dalí or Carrie Mae Weems subvert identity tropes by means of liberating counterimages, associating reflective surfaces not with vanity or egocentrism, but with self-respect and social recognition. ‘Reality changes with each new angle. Mirrors can be seen as a vanity, but that is not all their meaning. The act of looking into a mirror is really about having the courage to take a look at yourself and really face yourself.’ (Interview with Louise Bourgeois; Terrie Sultan, “Defining the Terms of Engagement: The Art of Louise Bourgeois,” in Louise Bourgeois: The Locus of Memory Works 1982-1993, eds. Charlotta Kotik, Terrie Sultan and Christian Leigh (New York: Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1994), 49) Defining the body not as a stable or essentialist entity, but ‘a variable boundary, a surface whose permeability is politically regulated’, the ground-breaking book Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, by the acclaimed American philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2020. Her writings on the fluidity of gender identities take Ovid’s Metamorphoses even further: ‘If the inner truth of gender is a fabrication and if a true gender is a fantasy instituted and inscribed on the surface of bodies, then it seems that genders can be neither true nor false, but are only produced as the truth effects of a discourse of primary and stable identity.’

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I always want to paint people; their voices, the way they feel in conversation, the energy they bring to a space. Sometimes the people I paint are ‘real’, sometimes they are not. I suppose I am trying to capture what we perceive in other faces. I am trying to translate character. Trying to transform what we all feel but cannot see. People are the most terrifying, the most complex and the most beautiful works of art. I don’t paint to make life easier. I paint because life isn’t, people aren’t, and art shouldn’t be easy either. So, I paint because I have to. It is as indispensable as breathing.


DIGITAL ART AND ‘POOR IMAGES’ Participating Artists: Emily Mulenga Stacie Ant Lilly Handley Shana Moulton LaTurbo Avedon Shawne Michaelain Holloway Yoshi Sodeoka Surabhi Saraf Alex McLeod Hannah Neckel Chris Coleman Olia Svetlanova Haydiroket Soliman Lopez Rita Jiménez Wednesday Kim Anne Spalter Molly Erin McCarthy

In an age where a reversed urinal, a pile of Brillo boxes and a messy bed are all recognisable icons of modern art, it might seem that the line separating art and the everyday was erased long ago. Yet despite digital technology becoming an integral part of our everyday lives in the past two decades, works that take on the form of websites, GIFs and memes are largely absent from the contemporary art narrative. There are, of course, many well-known artists who employ digital technology in their practice. Digital design and production are key features of ‘paintings’ by contemporary stars like Christopher Wool and Wade Guyton, while David Hockney’s iPad drawings and Richard Prince’s recent Instagram series demonstrate that even long-established artists are keen to update their practice to reflect the new digital age. But though dialogue between contemporary art and new technology exists, these experiments remain somewhat limited. While the work may be produced digitally, artists end up extracting the finished product from its original context by encasing it in a physical object and staging it as a painting, print or installation. A distinction needs to be drawn between art that makes selective use of digital technologies and art that is digital from start to finish – in its conception, production and display. For over 20 years the latter has been stuck in the limbo of becoming the ‘next big thing’, its popularity among young artists and curators offset by the art market’s reluctance to embrace a medium that resists monetisation. Digital art in its purest form is not restricted to any place or time, it is ready to materialise on anyone’s screen in a matter of seconds. American digital artist Evan Roth believes digital media should be free and copied: ‘That’s its natural state. It’s like water flowing.’ This condition resonates with the dynamic of the contemporary art world, one that is constantly on the move between numerous fairs, exhibitions and biennales. But while transportation of physical artworks leads to economic and environmental costs, the movement of digital art between computer screens leaves no tangible trace. As the climate crisis and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic have questioned the art world’s globetrotting lifestyle, digital art could provide a sustainable solution. Art aficionados and curators could easily be won over by this ethos of sustainability, but persuading collectors to invest into a medium that resists fetishisation is a far more challenging task. Digital art’s incorporeality is at odds with the conventional understanding of ownership as a claim over a tangible object; and in an age when anything can be easily downloaded from internet, it is especially hard to persuade collectors to invest into [ 26 ]

works whose multiple copies could still be in online circulation. The art market’s desire for exclusivity puts pressure on artists to encase the digital content in a physical object, resulting in hybrid works such as Addie Wagenknecht’s multi-screen installations or Jeff Elrod’s digitally-produced abstract paintings. In fact, these works constitute the bigger portion of lots offered at ‘digital art’ auctions that have been organised by Phillips and Sotheby’s in recent years. This in turn allows the auction houses to market themselves as pioneers of artistic innovation, whilst still taking comfort in artworks more representative of traditional mediums than digital art itself. This suspicion of digital art needs to be considered against centuries of Western artistic tradition. Dating back to the time of the Renaissance, artworks have been mythologised as vessels carrying creative energy bestowed on them by the artist. While reproductions and emulations could replicate the outer appearance of the work, they could never transmit the invisible aura that is unique to the original. Theorised in those quasireligious terms, modern culture equates original works to treasured relics and museums to their worshipping sites. Just as being in a presence of a relic is believed to open up a path to a heighted spiritual experience, a direct encounter with an artwork is viewed as the key that unlocks the entirety of its artistic value. The copies can travel and disperse, but the original requires the journey to be completed by the viewer. Yet still, despite the drive in contemporary art to rebel against traditions of the past, some seemingly innovative practices such as performance or site-specific art still rely on notions of immediacy and physical presence in generating their meaning. Meanwhile, the mass pilgrimages of collectors and art professionals to fairs and biennales demonstrate that the art market is similarly reliant on direct encounters with works. Contrary to Walter Benjamin’s famous proclamation that mechanical reproduction will bring an end to the obsessive worship of the original, it is clear that aesthetic fetishism is still governing our relationship with art today. Within this cultural context, the online domain and digital art as its extension can only be perceived as soulless simulacra. Digital technology may have become an integral part of our everyday lives, but in cultural imagination, the digital world occupies an ambiguous space in-between fantasy and reality. Instagram, for example, is marketed as a tool for sharing personal mementos, allowing friends and followers to get glimpses of your private life. Yet it is also commonly perceived as a distorting prism, projecting idealised images that have

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little grounding in real life. Similarly, videogames, for all their attention to detail, offer a warped experience of warfare and sports, with sacrifice and hard work replaced by instant gratification. The more we engage with the digital world, the more wary we become of its deceptive nature. Whilst artworks are also seen as gateways into the fictitious worlds of creative imagination, their cultural value is granted a real weighting in our civilised society. Indeed, artistic illusion can provide a critique or a re-evaluation of social, political or emotional reality; with Dali’s hallucinogenic scenes offering an insight into our subconscious or Richter’s photo-paintings asking us to reassess the relationship between truth and representation. The delusionary world of video games and social media, on the other hand, has a numbing effect on our senses and perception of self – using its hyperrealism to blur the line between fact and fiction. Digital art finds itself at the crossroads between these two domains, having to induce a sense of deep aesthetic appreciation for a work constructed in a simulated reality. As early as 1981, Jean Baudrillard theorised that contemporary media will erase the distinction between reality and representation to the point where the original will become obsolete. For Baudrillard ‘the simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth – it is the truth which conceals that there is none.’ As simulated experiences become ever more prevalent in contemporary society, the illusion becomes its own reality. This rather pessimistic prediction comes true in the current digital age, where simulation is an integral part of our daily existence. In ‘Defense of the Poor Image’ conceptual artist Hito Steyerl adapts this critique to twenty-first century by analysing the fate of images that travel through the online realm: pixelated videos forwarded to WhatsApp chats, generic stock photos reimagined as memes or YouTube compilations of funny moments from old TV shows. These ‘poor images’ have been extracted from their original context and set off on a journey through the digital network, where they make themselves available for further distribution, transformation and multiplication. To achieve a greater momentum, they often have to sacrifice their quality. While we commonly interpret poor resolution as the loss of the image’s ‘aura’, this deterioration produces its own set of meanings by allowing the copy to acquire independence from the original. Steyerl goes on to describe the new status of the poor image, ‘it is no longer about the real thing—the originary original. Instead, it is about its own real conditions of existence: about swarm circulation, digital dispersion, fractured and flexible temporalities.’ Contrary to Baudrillard’s pessimistic interpretation of simulacrum as real turned artificial, Steyerl sees digital domain as a subversive space, which facilitates a fluid exchange of images between worldwide dispersed audiences. Although her analysis mainly focuses on images that started off as copies, digital art and poor images both exist in a simulacrum, where the aura of the original is renounced in favour of simultaneous experience. It is through the celebration of this unique ontology that digital art will be able to assert its rightful place in art history. The recent online exhibition of digital art ‘Well Now WTF’ curated by Lorna Mills, Wade Wallerstein and Faith Holland sets an example of how this can be achieved. The show is divided into several chatroom-like galleries, with ironic titles such as ‘Pants Optional,’ ‘Wash Your Fucking Hands’ and ‘So Sad The Art Fairs Were Cancelled’ poking fun at the new pandemic lifestyle. The featured GIFs and videos loosely echo the theme and tone set by curators, ranging from Daniel Temkin’s claustrophobic tour of a glitching floor plan to Anthony Antonelli’s humorous portrayal of an assembly line delivering laptops to be crowned with graduation hats. Presenting works of art whose natural environment is the digital screen, the

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finger-swiping tour of the exhibition doesn’t feel any less authentic – an inevitable shortcoming of the ‘virtual’ tours offered by galleries and museums during lockdown. The layout of the show purposefully resists any association to traditional art displays, with its bright acidic colours and jumping texts paying homage to the late ‘90s chat rooms instead. The exhibition chooses to celebrate its digital ontology and the effect is that of profound nostalgia. While we tend to perceive online spaces as lacking in emotional appeal – emphasised by sterilised designs of Apple’s and Google’s interfaces – the nostalgic feeling associated with chat rooms proves that digital aesthetics can carry a particular flavour that is unique to its domain. Through this sentiment, the show asserts its status as an illusion with no origin, representing a medium with its own history and pictorial vocabulary that is no longer grounded in the material world. GIFs are by far the most prevalent format in the show, with Wade Wallerstein stating in the exhibition essay that it was chosen for ‘its communicative potential—its ability to slide in through direct messages and comments sections—and be the intimate file-based sharing mechanism by which we might all feel a little bit closer to one another.’ Indeed, most artists are attracted to digital media precisely because of its ability to enable a democratising experience that transcends geographical borders. This ethos is perfectly encapsulated by an online digital art platform – Daata Editions. The project adopts the model of streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify to encourage an online consumption of art at an affordable cost. The site offers its subscribers an opportunity to stream digital artworks, upload them to devices and enjoy playlists put together by curators as well as make their own. In renouncing private ownership in favour of a community of like-minded thinkers, this approach echoes Steyerl’s vision of digital networks as subverting mechanisms which allow works to be shared and enjoyed by an unlimited number of people. In an ideal world this ethos of mutual empowerment could be the longawaited antidote to the toxic competitiveness of the art market. But the question remains whether this feeling of interconnectedness between viewers could replace the desire to connect with the physical artwork itself. The digital revolution in art could have much deeper implications that any previous art historical milestone. Contrary to ready-mades, minimalist sculpture or other concrete art forms, the immateriality of digital art is capable of resisting assimilation into the existing capitalist structure of the art market. Yet unlike actionism or performance art, it does not have to compromise its integrity to in order to make itself available to dissemination and preservation. Its digital condition of existence could finally provide a viable alternative to the limited status of art as either a luxury good owned by the rich or a treasured relic safeguarded in a museum. With the online realm acting as both the market place and a site of display – the network of digital image can be entirely self-sufficient, allowing digital art to evolve past its status as an emulation of traditional artistic practices and assert its own unique ontology. While museums, art fairs and paintings will still retain their value and function, the online spaces can promote an alternative economy of images that will cater to new audiences and collectors. Made for the many and not the few, the scope of digital art’s potential extends beyond its creative innovativeness, tapping into the more profound issues of privilege and inequality in the art world.



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For many centuries, Mexico had a tradition of textile art based on colourful embroidering of clothes, bags and beddings, but this cultural heritage, referred to as “bordados”, is threatened with disappearance in the face of plagiarism made by multinational prêt-àporter companies.

the motives indeed come from a Mexican community originally and publicly declare it did not intend to take ownership of it. However, individual whistleblowers or journalistic investigations might be useful in revealing cultural appropriations a posteriori, but effective preventive measures should also exist.

Mexico, and the Oaxacan region in particular, is recognized as having some of the most beautiful production of embroidered textiles, with designs representing the dreams and beliefs, culture and daily life of many indigenous groups. Most of them have maintained their textile traditions, carrying out practices such as growing plants to produce textiles, dying the fabrics or threads, and developed unique embroidery styles with distinctive patterns, techniques and symbols. However, because Mexican Law allows an almost free use of these embroideries, the lack of effective legal protection for traditional cultural expressions has been used by many worldwide brands to copy the colourful patterns in their own collections, without any benefits reversed to the communities at the source of these designs.

One way of defending these traditional bordados could be for Mexico to adopt a new scheme, parallel to copyright law, that takes into account the collective nature of traditional cultural expressions and protects them despite the lack of identifiable authors. Some jurisdictions have already such regimes under different names, such as “collective community intellectual property rights” or “traditional intellectual property law”. Hopefully, the Mexican government announced in 2019 that such a project is currently in preparation. However, while being effective on a national level, such approach cannot necessarily ensure respect on an international level. Therefore a more impactful legislative solution would be the adoption of a cultural heritage treaty, which would appeal to the moral rather than patrimonial rights of the author groups (since the designs still cannot qualify as copyrightable works, justifying the payment of royalties). Similarly to the United Nation’s Nagoya Protocol (2014) for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits relating to traditional knowledge of biological resources, it would be necessary to adopt a specific international convention relating to the wider intellectual property of indigenous communities: it would define clear guidelines for companies around the world on how to ensure a fair and equitable sharing of the traditional designs and bound them to recognize the community of origin.

Generally speaking, Mexican copyright system awards a time-limited protection to original literary, artistic and craft works against their deformation, causing demerit or damage to reputation or image of the author, whether an individual or an ethnic. However, an embroidery design is viewed not as an artwork but as a technique, so it cannot benefit from classical copyright protection. Moreover, while the traditions and techniques are inherited from the community, each embroider has its distinctive signs, style or method, so each design from each craftsmen would have to be registered one by one, which is practically impossible and would be economically unsustainable. It is also currently impossible to protect them through the concept of collective property, for traditional designs do not have specific authors; rather, they unite centuries-old knowledge passing throughout generations and act as distinctive signs between the tribes. In light of this, Mexican Law has adopted specific provisions for traditional works: these can be legally borrowed, for free, under the unique condition that the community or ethnic group, or else the region, from which the artwork originates is simply mentioned. By comparison, anyone willing to reuse artistic works protected by copyright would have to obtain a prior approval from the author or his representative, usually in exchange for the payment of a fee. In this sense, the Mexican law provides an inadequate protection since it allows the exploitation of traditional motifs by anyone: the non-requirement of prior authorization required makes it extremely difficult to monitor any uses of the designs around the globe and enforce the obligation to acknowledge their origin. This legal gap has created an opportunity for international companies to easily and freely reproduce the indigenous embroideries on their garments and furniture. Between 2012 and 2017, several major clothing brands, such as Zara, Mango, Isabel Marant, Madewell, Intropia and Michael Kors, have been accused of plagiarizing designs from various indigenous groups in their collections, without any credit given. Considering themselves as victims of fast fashion, Mexican groups have condemned this appropriation and have demanded from the state authorities an initiative that would help protect the culture, crafts and garments that are native to the region. In the case of Isabel Marant, the media and public attention were such that the designer had to recognize

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While waiting for the lawmakers to find adequate and realistic answers, some associations have already started efficient actions. For instance, the Impacto organization seeks to make the work of the artisans visible through media and to create connections between the indigenous communities and small businesses seeking to market their embroideries. Projects have prospered in the eight years since the creation of Impacto and approximately 6,000 Mexican artisans were able to benefit from this scheme by collaborating directly with designers. Besides, a minority of international firms, such as the furniture brand Roche Bobois, have been paying royalties to Mexican communities by their own initiative. Nevertheless, despite the work of such associations and the previous media attention to this issue, Louis Vuitton and Carolina Herrera have recently been involved in new scandals for incorporating traditional designs in their 2020 furniture and couture collections respectively. Considering the precarity of Mexican communities and the importance of embroideries for their cultural and economic survival, it is essential to confront the longestablished and ubiquitous unfair appropriation of this intangible cultural heritage and protect the art of Mexican embroidery. In the absence of effective governmental watchdogs and compelling legislation, it is currently up to us, consumers, to investigate the origin of the products we are buying and to stand by those businesses that support or collaborate with these communities to create ethical products.



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Luan Lamberty, Film stills from 947/ Grenzen [947/Borders], 2018, 03:07 min. In collaboration with “notruf ” (Source: https:// vimeo. com/288520710)

Luan Lamberty standing in front of Untitled, 2019, oil on canvas, 165 x 200 cm (Photo: DorinoManolo Förster)

Louise Schockmel: How does the process of drawing and painting allow you to express your creativity?

through my access to a university library, my involvement with texts by philosophers and sociologists at that time.

Luan Lamberty: During the process of manual drawing and painting, a lot is happening. Before I start painting on a canvas, I make sketches, just like I draw a storyboard before I make an animated film. The sketches and the storyboard are my ideas and my plan, but they are open to what happens on the canvas or the animation table, leaving room for spontaneity. I have a certain control over the paint, but part of what happens on the canvas happens through interaction with the paint and in the process of painting. A lot happens in painting. Something happens to you, a permanent development.

LS: Indeed, places of encounter animate your paintings. If entry halls and living rooms could be seen as the polished façade that one presents to the occasional visitor, bedrooms as places of dreams and intimacy, and lofts as places where deepest secrets are hidden, what sensations do kitchen interiors specifically convey?

LS: And which cultural experiences altered or shaped the way you perceive the world? LL: Above all, my openness, being open to have contact with diverse people has shaped my observations. Being curious about people and their stories, about what they do. I was shaped by the fact that in my youth, since I was 14, 15, I had grown up in a left-wing socio-cultural milieu. This made me a person who questions and remains critical. At the age of 20, I started being in queer spaces, which also influenced me and the way I see the world, and

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LL: I see kitchen interiors as a social place, a place of being together, a room of communication. People gather in kitchens. A lot of people like to sit there together to talk, play, laugh. They are a spontaneous meeting place, everyone must go to the kitchen sooner or later anyways, whether you sit down or not. But at the same time, it is also a room in which there is dispute. A place in which conflicts are fought out in families, partnerships or shared flats. And what if there is no communication in this room of communication? What if you do not feel secure or relaxed in this room and the ensuing constellations? LS: Good point. And what if this domestic miscommunication also concerns bystanders? Kitchen tables in your paintings often continue beyond the pictorial space, almost inviting viewers to take a seat and join the

discussion. Indeed, framing structures, and the crossing of boundaries or categories punctuate your work, especially your “Rahmenbilder” [“Frame Images”] series, which activates the German idiom “aus dem Rahmen fallen” [“to get out of line”]. What is the concept underlying these works? To what extent do you consider painting to allow the questioning or overcoming of engrained binaries? LL: Borders only become tangible boundaries when there are openings, and vice versa. This is reflected in the content and in the form of the paintings. Simultaneously open and shut. In my “Rahmenbilder” you see figures in frames. The figures react differently within or with their frames. By being active, they are no longer just painted figures. These figures move from being objects to becoming subjects. The pictures are not in physical frames, but

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have frames painted on them. At the same time, social frames are “only” created and one can deal with them in various modes. LS: Some of your painted and animated works directly address the societal perception of transgender people, and rely on personal experiences, such as the gynaecologist’s or bank employee’s reluctance to show understanding. Would you like to tell us a bit more about these projects? And which method of engendering identification do you regard as most effective? LL: These projects are dealing with everyday situations of people who step out of the given direction of femininity and masculinity, and the resulting consequences to which transgender people are exposed. Even though it is only a construct, every person is affected by gender, regardless of whether they are more or less able to cope with given

Luan Lamberty, Untitled, 2019, oil on canvas, 170 x 240 cm Luan Lamberty, Untitled, 2019, oil on canvas, 145 x 195 cm

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gender norms or not. The appearance of a trans person calls into question the irrefutable nature of one’s own gender identity as a fact, which in turn is a reason why aggressive reactions, irritation and insecurity often occur. These projects are mainly about abuse of power. In a way you can see it as a charge to people who abuse their power. In some of my recent paintings those subjects are still there, but they opened up to multiple meanings. I do not see one of those methods as more effective than the other one. They are disparate but not opposite approaches and in the moment I find my current method more interesting. LS: At what point do you consider a work of art to be finished – can it ever be finished? How do you decide on the dynamics of the line, i.e. which areas to leave blank, which ones to blur, which ones to clearly delineate, and which ones to overpaint? LL: It has to do with the dynamic in which I find myself. I work on it until the painting achieves the intimacy I wish the work to represent. Between me and my work, emotion must be created that could arise feelings of understanding in others. This is a continuous process. Sometimes I still make changes after weeks of not touching a painting. One small detail can change the whole artwork. The piece is not finished when I have finished painting it. I have frozen a scene and the viewers are about to unfreeze it. In the moment that the viewers are looking at my painting, the thawing process begins. I finished painting it, but the artwork is not finished, it is not completed, the painting stays open. The painting keeps on living, the emotion that arises when people are looking at it stays. Therefore, the tension continues. LS: Open windows, as well as virtual windows, in form of mobile devices, feature as recurring motifs in your figurative paintings. They form porous boundaries, separating the individual from the external world, yet giving a glimpse of other realities and affecting those sitting in front of them. Light, darkness, wind or invading vegetation enter the kitchen interiors. To what extent can a painting act as a window or offer fresh viewpoints on experienced realities? LL: I would say that a painting can serve as a window and give new perspectives on experienced realities in that it allows the viewer to enter the room. In a way, the viewers share space with the painter. But I want the viewers not only to stand in front of the window and look from outside, but invite them to enter the room, to sit at the table. LS: Your paintings convey stories, just like your animations. Frozen in time, the paintings catch microactions in medias res, where gestures can reveal more than unspoken words. Faceless individuals are melting, resting their heads on their hands, with colour dripping down on the table, or contemplating their own shadows. Yet you pick a vivid colour palette and engaging geometric contrasts which structure the compositions. How do you choose the colours, the size of the canvas and the overall dialectics between figures?

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LL: Sometimes the canvas comes before the idea, and sometimes the idea comes before the canvas. So, I choose the size of the canvas according to the idea or composition, or I build the canvas before and then decide what the content will be based on the size of the canvas I have built. The paintings with open tables that extend beyond the canvas are usually in larger formats to further enhance the invitation for the viewer to take a seat. The way my characters interact with each other or how they sit, comes mainly from observations of how people interact. Sometimes I discover colour combinations in everyday life that I then possibly use in a future painting. The colours can change while I am painting a picture and I deal with them in the process of painting. I mostly choose them from an intuitive feeling, but sometimes it can take several days until I have decided the colour of a table, for example, even if the other colours are already fixed. But the decisions about my colour palette are the result of an ongoing process, just like the decisions about the general dialectic between the figures. The idea I have at the beginning is not necessarily exactly what comes out at the end. Starting to paint initiates a process which continues to shape the idea. LS: Which project(s) are you most proud of and why? Let me replace the word pride with another word, perhaps with a feeling of satisfaction with a result and reactions. I am satisfied about a few of my paintings, but I would talk about my project with “notruf ” here. An animation film that was created in cooperation with “notruf Bremen”- a Psychological Counselling Center for Sexual Violence. This film points to a social problem which is still taboo. There I got direct reactions that made a concrete difference within my work. But I would not call it proud. LS: Finally, has lockdown affected your current artistic practice or choice of subject matter? LL: When I started to paint on a new canvas, I was thinking about my last paintings and I noticed how they can be read in this situation of lockdown. I continue to work with what I was already interested in before the lockdown and it takes on even more significance at this period of time. The painting I am working on is also about social distance, but somehow some of my previous works are also. It is not so easy as an artist at this time, exhibitions are postponed and cancelled, some important exchanges in the art scene have become difficult. I am lucky that I can still go to my studio. But at the same time, it also gives me new possibilities. For example, by holding seminars and workshops online, I can now conduct a seminar in Bremen at the art academy, even though I live in Luxembourg. There I give seminars on how to make animated films with simpler devices and not having access to an animation studio. For further information: www.luanlamberty.com.



Watts is a neighbourhood in southern Los Angeles and remains one of the most dangerous areas in the city, despite falling crime rates since the 1990s. In this impoverished neighbourhood stands the bizarre Watts Towers. A heterotopia which is totally useless and took 33 years for Rodia to painstakingly and single-handedly create with a handful of basic tools.

This intertwining architectural sculpture that comes from his own imagination has no function. It’s too intricate and delicate to have anyone gather within it. It doesn’t keep the rain out. It doesn’t provide privacy or feed any sort of need a human might experience. It simply exists as evidence of Rodia’s need to create and an organisation of his imagination. Everything in the monumental creation is so decidedly placed. Specific mediums are grouped together, certain colours have been considered in the placement of the pottery. Everything has been done with care and attention and spirit. The spirals of the tower have so much personality and soul to a point where you have no choice but believe that artworks like this is the most authentic to the spirit of humanity. To move around and within the space is to be within that spirit. It’s not driven by commission or aims to fit a demand, follow a movement or speak specifically to certain politics. It just is. Around Rodia’s tower, a community centre and garden have been built. The centre provides a classroom and learning space for locals as well as free soaps and hygiene products. The community sculpture garden is rich with beautiful plants, free herbs for members of the community and even a giant tortoise. It’s a haven for peace, reflection and security. The people who volunteer at the centre are hugely welcoming and passionate about the towers, their culture and their volunteer work. The Watts Towers didn’t pull Watts out of poverty as maybe the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao did for Bilbao, but perhaps more importantly it’s provided a sense of togetherness and resilience which is deeply founded around the artwork. The ‘thing’ that connects us all that we can’t put a name to exists and is visible (and almost readable) through pieces like this. Perhaps this is the true meaning of art. [ 38 ]

AN INTRODUCTION The Emerging Artist Project originated at Christie’s Education, New York in the early 2000s, as a preprofessional exercise for students enrolled in the Connoisseurship seminar of the MCAM program. Although it was the brainchild of my former colleague, Dr. Robin Reisenfeld, it has been my pleasure to orchestrate this project over the past six years, adjusting its contours and goals to the ever-changing landscape of contemporary art production. The perennial focus on fresh talent and new work ensured that this project never grew stale. Indeed, my colleagues and I always welcomed the first round of emerging artist presentations in June, however long those marathon days could be. As I’ve explained in other issues of C#, the project involves many weeks of scouting emerging artists on the brink of greater achievement. Students examine new work in spaces both real and virtual, including art school thesis exhibitions, residency open houses, and digital registries. Over the years, CENY students have plucked many promising artists from such venues before persuading their professors and peers that those artists deserve sustained attention. Among the more perspicacious choices have been Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Elliott Hundley, and Tschabalala Self, all of whom were recent MFA graduates when CENY students championed their work. Other students have shrewdly advocated for Sarah Crowner, Jeffrey Gibson, Martine Gutierrez, and Brie Ruais, long before those artists gained widespread recognition. But eventual affirmation from a consensusdriven art world is less important than the project’s principal challenge, which asks students to clarify and justify their personal tastes and enthusiasms with the knowledge and skills gained from their courses at CENY. [ 39 ]

Despite the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 iteration of the project remained rigorous and impressive. Students shifted their scouting efforts online, some studio visits were conducted remotely, and the polished presentations were zoomed to a far-flung, homebound, yet captivated audience. As in previous years, the faculty shortlisted three exceptional presentations for a juried competition slated for October, and those select students have composed artist profiles for this final issue of C#. Although the graduate programs offered by Christie’s Education, New York are coming to an end, I hope these few pages of writing will help preserve a noteworthy component of our remarkable curriculum.



KYOKO HAMAGUCHI Born in Tokyo and currently living in New York, Kyoko Hamaguchi is a mixed-media artist whose work directly engages with its surroundings. By incorporating elements such as light, time, and movement, she reinterprets the traditional notion of analog photography. Much of Hamaguchi’s work is situated at the intersection of four conceptual terms: relocation, container, camera, and photography. To her, a camera is a container that records visible changes of relocation, while a photograph is always brought somewhere other than its place of origin. As Hamaguchi has said, “Photographs are meant to be relocated like tropical fish in an aquarium in a cold city.” In her ongoing exploration of analog photography, Hamaguchi often inserts an image-making process into a particular system. For a project titled End to End (201718), for example, Hamaguchi carried pinhole cameras made from cardboard boxes while riding different subway lines in New York. Longer train rides demanded longer exposures that yielded brighter photographs. Light became a measurement of travel, distance, and time.

Kyoko Hamaguchi, Postal Summary, 2018 shipping box, photo emulsion dimensions variable Courtesy the artist

For a work known as Postal Summary (2018), Hamaguchi transformed standard shipping boxes into pinhole cameras and sent them to herself, effectively turning the postal system into a nomadic darkroom. Some of the boxes traveled the globe, while others were sent a shorter distance from Hamaguchi’s house to her studio. The distress and distortion of the boxes reflect the various journeys and ensure that each is a unique object. The abstract images developed inside the boxes may resemble Constructivist paintings, but they are mainly indexical records of the changing environment and duration of shipment. After the entire process, the boundaries that define a container, a camera, and a photograph are eliminated.

Hamaguchi’s work invokes numerous artists across time and space. End to End recalls the subway portraits made by Walker Evans in the 1940s, as well as Hiroshi Sugimoto’s long exposures of entire movies playing inside theaters. More recently, Walead Beshty also utilized FedEx boxes and shipping services to create unique sculptures. Hamaguchi has cited On Kawara as a significant influence on her conceptual approach to making art. Between 1968 and 1979, Kawara continuously recorded traces of his physical existence through mailing postcards to different friends. The connections with various artists not only add layers of meaning to Hamaguchi’s work, but also clarify her unique position within art discourse. Hamaguchi’s interests extend beyond experimental cameras. In ephemeral works like God of the Day (2015/2018/2020), she has melted ice sculptures of various deities into a single bottle of water. Refrozen and dissolved on a daily basis, this recurring sculpture explores topics such as cultural homogenization and migration of people. No matter the ultimate form of her works, material engagement has always been the foundation of Hamaguchi’s art. Therefore, to help audiences better grasp the concept, she typically demonstrates the process alongside her finished work.  Hamaguchi gained her MFA from Hunter College in May 2020, but Covid-19 forced the postponement of her thesis exhibition. Even though 2020 is a challenging year for young artists, Hamaguchi has achieved some noteworthy success. Early this year, her work was featured in the SPRING/BREAK Art Show in New York, and her first solo show took place at Koki Gallery in Tokyo. While Hamaguchi is actively pursuing residency programs and gallery representation, her work has already attracted collectors around the globe.


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Nik Nerburn, Hay Bale Studies, 2018 film still Courtesy the artist

Nik Nerburn is a media artist and photographer hailing from Bemidji in northern Minnesota, and currently living between Duluth and Minneapolis. Nerburn received his BA in History and Documentary Filmmaking from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and is now an MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota. Nerburn’s photographs, videos, and social practice focus primarily on the histories of the rural areas of the American Midwest and the communities that now occupy those places. His interests lie with representing the vernacular, recounting small stories and engaging with local narratives. There are two dimensions to Nerburn’s practice. In projects such as 13 Roads in Otter Tail County (2017) or Hay Bale Studies (2018) he uses photography and video to investigate the changing nature and volatility of the lands of rural Minnesota – once a homeplace to the Dakota and Ojibwe peoples. In both of these works, he juxtaposes images of the industrialization that permitted large-scale agricultural production in Minnesota, and images of serene nature that nevertheless contain signs of human intervention. These works prompt viewers to consider the importance and transformations of rural areas and wonder whether landscapes free of industrialization can exist. The other dimension of Nerburn’s practice focuses on the stories of small towns and communities. Nerburn believes that “stories can create bridges across great differences,” and wants to discover and capture stories that are often dismissed and forgotten in history. In addition, Nerburn sees his practice as battling the narrative of deficit that surrounds small towns and rural communities, which are usually described in terms of what they lack instead of what they can actually offer.

One of Nerburn’s projects in this vein is titled The Grand Terrace Photo League (2019). It emerged from an eight-week residency in a state-subsidized apartment complex called Grand Terrace, in Worthington, southern Minnesota, where Nerburn engaged with the local community. Although a small town of 13,000, Worthington has become an incredibly diverse place that houses a large immigrant community from Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America alongside its historic residents of German and Scandinavian origin. The results of Nerburn’s residency, funded by ArtPlace America Community Development Investment grant, are photographs and an artist’s book that portray the everyday life and diversity of this small rural town. In addition to taking pictures of the community members, this project involved organizing photography workshops, free family photo days, and the restoration of old family photographs. By organizing events for the Grand Terrace community, and granting them access to a photography studio, Nerburn’s project aimed to provide visual representation and creative agency to a group of people that is typically disregarded by the art world. This year, and despite the limitations imposed on all of us by the global pandemic, Nerburn has continued to develop his projects while pursuing an MFA. He is currently finishing his West Duluth photography book, which compiles images of the residents of Lincoln Park, a gentrifying Duluth neighborhood that Nerburn began to chronicle in 2017. As the recipient of many grants and fellowships throughout the years, Nerburn has already developed his practice significantly. Yet he expects the MFA program will provide access to more resources, equipment, and teaching experience. He hopes to continue working with communities throughout his home state, and further work on his documentary filmmaking and social practice projects.


SARA JIMENEZ Sara Jimenez, Silent Malady, 2017 scanned and printed colonial images of the Philippines, inkjet prints of online news images, paint 24 x 9 x 1 feet Courtesy the artist

Sara Jimenez is a Filipino-Canadian artist based in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BA from the University of Toronto in 2008 and her MFA from Parsons School of Design in 2013. She has presented exhibitions and performances at Smack Mellon, El Museo del Barrio, the Brooklyn Museum, the Bronx Museum, and the Pinto Art Museum in the Philippines, among other venues. Jimenez explores the transcultural memories of impermanent materials. Growing up in a multi-cultural environment, she became interested in the global narratives regarding one’s origins and the transmutation of memories. Many of her works articulate the invisible histories that complicate one’s identity. She collects abandoned objects, debris, colonial documentation, maps, and textiles. Through creative manipulation of these materials, she aims to complicate pre-existing narratives of place and memory. Many of Jimenez’s works address dilemmas of immigration and the cultural losses caused by dislocation. In a sculpture titled From Dust You Came 2 (2014), for example, Jimenez uses salt to represent bodily and natural substances like blood, sweat, tears and the ocean. Crystallized on long strips of silk, the salt appears to cascade from suspended cups and alludes to migrating bodies separated from home. For Abyssal (2016), she installed a handmade net that captured natural and found objects overhead, creating a suggestive encounter with an underwater landscape. For Jimenez, the ocean is a connective tissue between where she lives now and her origins in the Philippines. Here it becomes a fictional space where lost objects and memories have been captured, preserved, and transformed. Other works deal with the neglected colonial history of the Philippines. For Silent Malady (2017), Jimenez created a curtain-like installation made from shredded photographs and texts. The words and images derive from the period when the United States promoted policies of “benevolent assimilation” in the Philippines, which effectively stripped the native culture from its people. By relating assimilation to camouflage, Jimenez suggests that this history has been overlooked and censored ever since. The colonial period in the Philippines is also evoked by the artist’s Ossuary sculptures (2016), a series of cemented objects symbolizing a lost past that has been excavated and pieced back together. By using cement to flatten various objects, she conjures the brutal burial of brutal memories. Jimenez’s focus on materials and processes can be traced back to Postminimalist artists like Eva Hesse. But her attention to memories embedded in objects resonates with contemporary artists like Sigalit Landau, Doris Salcedo, and Chiharu Shiota.

Jimenez is also highly conscious of the social issues we are facing now. For a recent collaboration with Jason Schwartz at the FiveMyles Plus/Space in Brooklyn, the artists installed layers of sheer fabric to record the hues of the sky during sunset. Titled A Setting (2020), the translucent textiles weaving through space attempt to freeze a transient moment in the sky. They also capture moments of grief and reflection as days come to an end in New York during the pandemic and the protests. This poetic installation contains many variations of colors and forms, as well as hopes for changes that incubate in the air and may arrive with the dawn.



What would be the one piece of advice you have received during your time at Christie’s Education that you regularly still refer to in your profession? Christie’s Education taught me how to look at objects. It was a skill I needed to hone and a muscle I still use. Most of all, I learned to open my eyes and ears to clues around me about the marketplace, and in general, to continue that curiosity to choose a path or correct course. The education never ends, and the best bit of advice I can take from my time at Christie’s is that you must always continue learning, always be curious and recognize that the more you know, the more you realize how little you know.

After Christie’s Education, I had many kinds of jobs, including working in an antique jewellery gallery as a sales associate, selling advertising for The Magazine ANTIQUES, working with a start-up to eventually conceiving of and launching a magazine on collectible design. I even started selling antiques on the weekend at a nowdefunct flea market. Through all of these jobs, I met many people in the art world and learned about the perspectives of these professionals. It helped me understand the challenges and opportunities that exist, which in turn showed me where innovation was possible.

For your profession within the art world specifically: Where do you think changes create opportunities and What advice would you give challenges, and how will your 20-year old self entering those likely impact mean the the art world? overall development of your sector of the art world? I think that if you do not know what you want to do, try many I think how we use digital different jobs in the market you technology will be very want to work in. Many of my important to growing the art colleagues and friends have not market and specifically for had a linear career progression. Design Miami, the collectible I think it’s important to design market. People who complement your interest in the are investing in design need arts with business intelligence assurance that they are buying as well. vetted material and it will be interesting to see how we can use technology to support this. Digital platforms are also an opportunity to bring collectible design to regions that do not have access to the material or education around the material but have expressed an interest.


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It is often said that 20th century Russian Art is characterized by a series of artistic styles. Do you agree with that and how would you define the development of Russian Art during the Soviet regime?

Left: Igor Novikov, David, 2019

Tell us about your artistic career to date. How would you define yourself in relation the art of your time?

IGOR I was born in the Soviet era into a family of artists. I was greatly influenced by my father Alexei Novikov – his work stood apart from the official Soviet trends commended by the authorities. He introduced me to the work of Kandinsky and Chagall, as well as to Dionisius’s technique of icon painting. Although I received an excellent classical art education, it was at University that my problems began. Having learned to draw still-life and portraits professionally, I realized I still wanted to see the world in my own way. My creative career began around the years of the collapse of the USSR. In those long-ago 1980s, I was “playing” with pictograms and discovered that, by superimposing these active figures on the landscapes of the Russian and Western masters, I was able to explore human attitudes to nature and the environment. Reinterpreting masterpieces from the past enabled me to both bring them into the 21st century and express my own attitude to the current times. My “little men” – sort of pictograms, partially inspired by Malevich and Magritte – are now my way of expressing myself.

TATYANA In a context where Russian artists did not have access to Western art, I myself was lucky: immediately after graduation, in 1969, I had the chance to visit Italy with a group of art critics. We drove all over that country and for the rest of my life my attitude to art was shaped by this trip. I saw the frescoes of the great Italian artists of the 14 – 16th centuries. It was a discovery that forever defined my life. I cannot say that my works are similar to them, but for me they were the pinnacle of mastery, the pinnacle of color, pattern, form and expression of an inherent thought. It is true that the stages of my formation took place during a period of a severe regulation of art. But I absolutely did not want to remain within the framework of the “lifelike” Soviet art. Even my first exhibitions, some of which were closed down or cancelled, were no longer associated with this imposed realistic style. It seemed to me that one of the main purposes of an artist is to leave a trace of their time, what they feel and think. Of course, everyone expresses their thoughts in different ways. Creating an own original art has become surprisingly difficult. With the advent of the Internet, the world has become immediately accessible. The artist’s individuality depends on creative abilities and desires, on the intellectual tasks that they set for themselves and on material support from sponsors. [ 45 ]

TATYANA It’s important to highlight that art in Russia has not developed in a totally autonomous and singular way. Since the late 19th century, many Russian artists, such as Kandinsky and Malevich, borrowed from Western trends. However, if something could define the “phenomenon” of Soviet-era art, it would be the complete lack of awareness about what was happening outside of the USSR. We were completely isolated from the rest of the world. It is difficult to imagine today that the Pushkin Museum, where artists such as Cézanne and Matisse hang today, was not accessible to the general public. We were also unaware of our own Russian artistic heritage, for example the pre-revolutionary Russian avant-garde, which was hidden from the public. This only changed in the late 1960s, when books about some foreign art and exhibitions, as well as catalogues of artworks kept in storerooms of Russian museums, such as the Tretyakov Gallery, became available. But the exposure remained minor. We had one direction only — socialist realism. Every artist had to work as part of the Union of Soviet Artists. Any artists who were not in line with these directions or not working in a governmentally regulated artistic “unit”, were drop-outs: they would face charges of “parasitism” and eviction from Moscow. Even well-known artists as Ilya and Emilia Kabakov and Erik Bulatov also worked in these units and were members of the Union. We all had to. However, I personally never considered the work I produced there as a true expression of my creativity. It was rubbish, even if I tried as best as I could to decorate what I produced there with my own perspective.

IGOR Art at that time completely “belonged” to the Communist Party. Of course, there were many honest, talented and interesting artists. However, the freedom of expression of talented “forbidden” artists, unrecognized by the authorities, remained hidden behind the walls of their studios. For the most part, these places were only of interest to journalists and art lovers from the West. TATYANA Indeed. In the Soviet Union, there was actually a parallel “unofficial” art. Today, there are even books about this “other” art. We visited studios and were aware of the “other” work of our colleagues. This “other” art existed in secrecy, through what was called “apartment exhibitions”. It seemed to me then that this was most interesting thing I saw in the USSR. Those who were able to leave the country, develop their creativity abroad or speak with foreigners were the lucky ones. In 1996, after the fall of the Soviet regime, the Pushkin Museum organized the exhibition “Moscow Berlin. Berlin Moscow”, which displayed paintings from Germany. We were struck by the absolute similarity of the paintings created in the era of Nazism and Stalin’s personality cult. The question arises: did our illustrious artists and architects simply copy the West, or did they develop their practices in a parallel autonomous way, all inevitably ending up with an art glorifying the ruling power in a similar manner?

Left: Tatyana Nazarenko, Waiting, 2020 Right: Igor Novikov, Fancy-dress Party, 2014

Many of your works seem to reflect on the past, in various forms. How important is it for you to chronicle the times in which you live, to revisit the past and to emphasize the link between our past and our present, and why? Is it a celebratory approach, a critical one or even an educational one?

IGOR The slogan of my life and my duty is to reflect my time and the real life of my contemporaries. For example, take the great Russian master Arkhip Kuindzhi’s painting “Birch Grove” (1879). Great technique, chiaroscuro; certainly impressive. It is nice to look at this peaceful landscape. But I live at a time when the amount of birch trees lessens by the day. I want to tell my audience about this. And my ‘little men’ help me by introducing dissonance. Appearing in these landscapes, they create tension, draw attention to the problem of the extinction of pristine nature, as if to say: “Caution, people! Soon this may not exist anymore”. I want to make the viewers think: “Where are we going?” I consider myself a patriot, and a student of history. With my works, I want to acquaint foreign viewers with the history of the Russian people, on the one hand, and to share universal values with the Russian audience, on the other. Time is always the measure of good and evil. And each artist is interesting in that he or she has their own ability to show reality.

TATYANA How to leave a trace of the passing of time in your work? For instance, in my “Family Album” series, I wanted to present the story of my family as an extremely ordinary Russian one. The story of my grandfather being executed in 1937, of my grandmother being left with two children. That is exactly what formed my attitude towards that time, when it was better to keep silent than to say anything, because, as my grandmother put it, “the walls have ears”. But there was something to say. Dissident circles and human rights activists existed, “forbidden” conversations happened, banned books were read… But, contrary to the natural human desire to erase bad memories, we must not forget about the lessons of history. Hence, the “Family Album” is not just the story of my family. It is a desire to express a past that, in fact, has not gone anywhere. It shaped me. It lives in me. It cannot be changed. The Soviet era censorship, which did not accept my works, accustomed me to use allegory in my paintings. I got used to encrypting my messages, addressing them not to my contemporaries, but to that future viewer who will understand the thought that I put in. Of course, I know Nietzsche’s idea about the need to forget the past in order to move forward. But, for me, immersion in the past is important. Our future depends on how correctly we evaluate the past. I am not talking about art only. But politics can easily turn around, and we will again be creatively unfree.

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How have your practices evolved with the major political changes that happened in Russia between 1980s and today? How is « being an artist » different now?

TATYANA In the late 1990s, the time came when the concept of “painting” had lost its meaning. Even more than that, it was debated whether the “picture” as such existed. This is when I moved towards installations and to do that, I had to adapt the implementation of my ideas to my material capabilities. I made my installations from the media most accessible to me: plywood and polyurethane foam. My first work in this genre was the “Underground Crossing” of 1996, which has become one of my most exhibited projects. Later, even though I have never considered myself a professional photographer, I made two photographic exhibitions, then a video installation, before I realized that these technical things really burden me. You need to be savvy, to have assistants in your arsenal. And since I am an individualist, I returned to painting. Painting always remains interesting for me. However, my painting technique constantly undergoes changes, depending on what goal I set. At some point, I had a particular passion for graphics and book illustration: paper and acrylic at that moment helped me convey my immediate impression of some of my ideas. This technique in turn inspired me to create more works and prompted several exhibitions. Over time, my approaches to painting have also changed. I do not paint large works anymore: it has become difficult and unnecessary. Moreover, there were no suitable platforms or exhibition spaces to show them. Despite all these experiences, I always welcomed being just a painter. On my business card, it is written “painter”, no other regalia. I have always been a painter.

IGOR In order to freely promote my work, I had to leave Russia for a long twenty years, as many others did in their time. And, like them, I am now seen more as a Western artist in Russia. Indeed, most of my exhibitions happened outside of Russia and, therefore, today, many in Russia are seeing my work for the first time. But time does not stand still and people seem to be reconsidering their attitude towards my practice. My current exhibition in Moscow showed that views are changing and interest in my work seems to growing in Russia.

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Left: Tatyana Nazarenko, The Game, 2015 Above: Tatyana Nazarenko, Carnival in Canazei, 2008 Below right: Igor Novikov, Moscow Dream, 1988

What is your experience of the contemporary art scene in Russia?

IGOR The undoubted merit of the Soviet era was a very serious classical education. If you managed to graduate, join this system and worked hard, you were in a very good financial position. But you could not freely create or exhibit. Besides, the main feature of artistic life in the Soviet Union was the almost complete absence of art galleries promoting artists on the art market. There was only a small number of exhibition spaces that belonged to the USSR Union of Artists where those artists, whose works were politically and thematically loyal to the existing regime, could exhibit. When Perestroika happened, we wanted to break out of unfreedom, and destroy the foundations. I was 30 and had the opportunity to move to Switzerland. There, I was able to collaborate quite successfully with galleries. I must say that serious art dealers are organizations with a history, with roots, when taste is fostered through generations and when commercial interests coincide with a passion for art. Many collectors at some point give their collections to the state and museums, such as the famous patrons of the Tretyakov Museum, Ivan Morozov and Sergei Schukin. For the past 25 years, Russia has been living in a truly new era, but this does not mean that the “habitat” of artists has become ideal. Over this period, there have been several economic crises; galleries have opened and then closed. Today, there are only a handful of galleries in Russia that have more than twenty years of experience. Moreover, while in Soviet times museums opened not only in big but also in small cities, today this is a rarity and provincial museums struggle to survive.

TATYANA I never cease to be surprised by Russia. In the past, artists from other countries wondered how one could live in the USSR as an artist. Artists from the West all worked for magazines, taught at universities and art schools, and decorated interiors. For us, Soviet artists, the fact that one could write and sell their paintings was almost unbelievable. We worked half of our lives in a country where there was no talk of private galleries, salons and auctions. There was a time when the fact that you bought a painting privately was regarded as a crime. In Russia, everything happens suddenly. Not smoothly, but spasmodically. Suddenly, overnight, after the first Sotheby’s auction in Russia in 1988, numerous galleries appeared, from chic spaces to modest ones located in basements. They exhibited a great variety of artists. It affected me too. My works were bought at Sotheby’s, and I began to exhibit in private galleries. It was an unforgettable, emotional time! The various opening days of those years were an incomparable spectacle.

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Your works are exhibited in Russia, but also in Switzerland and the USA. How, if at all, do you adapt your exhibitions to the different audiences and locations? In what ways is the reception of your works different depending on the countries?

TATYANA There was a paradoxical situation in the Soviet Union when we painted our paintings for a narrow circle of like-minded people. And in the absence of a private market, it never occurred to me to adapt my paintings for sale or for some other reason. I never specifically created works for exhibitions. Based on the concept of the organizers and the possibilities of the proposed space, I chose from already existing paintings. In addition, I created many works outside of Russia, inspired by what I saw around, but I myself determined the fate of my paintings. My largest installation in terms of size and exhibition geography in Europe and the USA, “Underground Crossing”, made an important impression. While I did not adapt it for the West, it was interesting that viewers everywhere recognized “their people” in my figures. People are always touched by something unusual. They are curious to see something not yet seen. And judging by the fact that most of my works were acquired by Western collectors, our “dissimilarities” was exactly what appealed.

IGOR We have been living in Switzerland for quite some time and exhibit all over the world. Since I am concerned about universal issues, my paintings are understood by people from all over the world. Some paintings, inexplicably, become prophetic. Some acquire a humorous tone. I feel that I belong to the world and I try not to restrict myself to the national framework when I create. We simply try to connect Moscow, London, Paris, or Barcelona with our works... It is good to have viewers around the world. This is an intellectual cosmos where thoughts connect in a fantastic way, intertwine, turn into the fates of other people. We can say that with our exhibitions around the world we are trying to jointly answer common human questions.



What would be the one piece of advice you have received during your time at Christie’s Education that you still regularly refer to?

In relation to art investment and art lending specifically: where do you think those changes create opportunities for innovation, but also challenges for art investment Work hard and strive for authority and art lending in particular? on your subject, whatever topic you need to cover! Holding art works generates negative cash flows (insurance, What advice would you give storage, etc), transaction costs your 20-year old self entering are high and generally speaking the art world? the art markets are far from being as ‘efficient’ as the financial Be prepared for a fascinating markets, while the enjoyment of journey, but also for a tough ride art – which is the true ‘dividend’ in a very competitive industry. Follow your instinct, nurture and of this asset class – cannot be leverage on your very specific and measured in euros or dollars… Therefore, although it is clear individual skills and passions, that acquiring and selling art, as in order to raise your profile, well as managing a collection, which often takes time! Seize may require some professional opportunities and be ready to give a lot before being paid back… assistance – this is the field of ‘art wealth management’ – art sometimes just a little. works shouldn’t be considered as Where do you identify ‘investments’ in the traditional significant changes, way. Art lending is another topic, developments and potential with some significant scope innovation for the art world for development, especially in and the art market over the Europe. coming years? In my opinion, beyond the amazing changes driven by digital technologies, the most important transformations will relate to transparency in the art market, which remains oddly insufficient. I know this is a highly controversial topic but I firmly believe that some regulation, aiming at increasing transparency around transactions, above certain value-thresholds, would dramatically help the market moving towards a more mature stage.     

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As museums, galleries, and fairs scramble to revive planned exhibitions through creating online platforms, art viewers get a taste of mass digitization in the art world. For galleries and artists who have always emphasized physical presence, it is a time where the situation demands creative flexibility.

Mungo Thomson May 6, 1985 (Did Comets Kill the Dinosaurs?) 2019. Courtesy of galerie frank elbaz

Mungo Thomson’s TIME series in the Art Basel Online Viewing Rooms became an ironically accurate representation of the absence that has characterized global human activity in recent months. Constructed to interact with its viewers by making the TIME magazine cover a mirror, the work’s title refers to the issue of May 6, 1985 (Did Comets Kill the Dinosaurs?) (2019). With equally dramatic energy, human existence is facing a global crisis against natural forces beyond our control. In the current context of the Covid-19 crisis, we are responding to a new mode of ‘absence.’ Browsing the myriad of exhibitions online confronts us with a sense of deprivation in the experience. The grace of movement in approaching an artwork; in bending, squatting, and turning to observe its texture, light, and depth, has been translated to a single stubborn click. All the nuances of creating the work’s physicality have been diluted and flattened upon a two-dimensional screen. The screen not merely provides a faithful display of the work, it becomes a medium with the power to replace, and even hijack, the original. Works that require viewer participation have historically shifted the creative and interpretive responsibility from artist to audience. Rather than promoting mindless scrolling, perhaps this absence can reintroduce this interaction by prompting us to fill in the blanks of our virtual experience. Our imagination is needed more than ever to shape absence as a form of involvement. This is not to discredit the digitization efforts of the art world in a situation of urgency. However, without an approach of criticality towards these visual replacements, we might as well shut our eyes.



Christie’s Education is a specialist provider of higher and continuing education, and an internationally recognised centre of academic excellence in the study of art business and the art market, art history and art world ecosystems, curating and connoisseurship. Our teaching philosophy is rooted in a knowledge culture that respects original enquiry and learning and that reflects a commitment to principles of equality, diversity and inclusivity

Christie’s Education has master’s degrees in London and New York, and is dedicated to preparing students for entry into the art world, placing great importance on analytical skills, objectbased learning, research and scholarship, and the practical experience of art and business as the keys to professional success. The 2019-2020 academic year will mark the conclusion of the master’s programmes globally at Christie’s Education.

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Christie’s Education also offers a wide range of continuing education opportunities in London, New York and Hong Kong, designed to introduce the fundamentals of art, collecting and art business, as well as advanced and certificate courses for those with an appetite to study at a deeper level. In addition, our online courses provide a fully immersive experience of the art world, enabling anyone in the world to access learning at the click of a button

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C# magazine, originally founded in 2012, gives Christie’s Education students the exclusive opportunity to engage with the complexities of th...

C#20 Magazine  

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