Sunday 7 June 2009

Gather Atlanta

Held on June 7th 2009. The first annual Gather Atlanta event.
Organized by local organizations Mint,, Wonder Root,& Thoughtmarker.

"In trying to give, you see that you have nothing....."

-The goal of this event was to bring organizations and individuals who consider themselves part of Atlanta's art community together,so that they may realize that they are in fact together. So that they may generate dialogue.
-The reason this seemed to be in need was because,although we will all agree that the word "community" does in fact exist,creating an environment where organizations and individuals can meet under a context that seeks to consciously see the word community,and by the very act of considering what one is,define it.
-A driving reason that seemed to emerge for this being needed was a sense that the "art community" is failing to reach an audience. A significant aspect of this event was a panelled discussion- primarily about the use electronic media in an age and locale where print media is losing its presence. --The discussion revolved around the use of internet platforms to help the "art community" becoming more tuned to itself and its audience. Cinque Hicks posed great questions to start the discussion. The questions asked audience members about how long they had been in atlanta,if they considered themselves primarily an artist,if they felt part of a community....great questions to soak on. While the questions seemed benign and simple,their fundamental nature is something very worthy of allowing to sink it,be considered in terms of why they were asked...i feel ultimately the entire discussion found itself covering predictable fundamental observations. This is not to say it didnt serve a great purpose,i simply feel for that purpose to be made worthy,the types of meetings need to happen more than once a year. That way of appraoching it would eventually comfort real conversation. LOTS of conversations about conversations need to take place in order to get partial conversations taking,moments of worth to occur-within the loving gesture of it.

-Even as I write these words,I realize the loop that this self-aware act is involved in.
-These words are going to find those that are interested.
Those that are interested,for the operative part,have already become aware of each other. They may behave as if independant of each other,side by side in a manner of speaking,but they still continue to focus primarily on their own interests,which in turn directs that energy back into the feeling that they are attempting to reach people who are unaware. Many feel they are attempting to generate an audience,to reach "them".

-------------------------Those that are interested will find the art.

There are those interested in art.
-Then there are those interested in art-in Atlanta.
-After this layer,many have naturally developed relationships or opinions of the various arts organizations that they relate to or do not. Each has their own process and can always discover more,true,but their actions are in process. Their process orginates from within them and that is what we work with. It is all you can work with. This process highly individuates into genres,intents of the manifestations that the word art means to others.

-Which by the way,makes me beam a little for Eyedrum, in that it was the obvious choice,the obvious available common ground to host such an event-thank you again Eyedrum! I don't recall any acknowledgment of the use of the space,it was somewhat a given that this was the place for this to happen. This could be interpreted as "taking it for granted"-but anyways...Since i feel Eyedrum has always been about "others",about the "community"-im sure it is okay with simply helping the community. Kind of like a soup line that gives to those in need and patiently waits for them to realize they are there to help them help themselves. Maybe I take that and run with it,pardon me-i know everyone there appreciates Eyedrum. Right?

Where were "we"? Pardon me internet art people. I mean pardon me Internet art people that not only like art,but like art in Atlanta,and then within that,care for what I,writing here as Eggtooth,am saying. I support your right to not be interested.

Here is an idea. I think it is a capital one. I support the right of Gather Atlanta to host quarterly events. But I dont think even that's often enough. Atlanta's art group therapy sessions need to start off hitting meetings weekly. This is not an exaggeration. This will carve it down to a core group. Those honestly concerned for an idea of "others",the others that form us will be there.

-The goal is to faciltate dialogue amongst ourselves,to accept that that is where the focus of the conversation should go.That it is a path,not a goal-if you will. It is very easy and always will be very easy to focus on discussing what you do and what you have done to try and reach "them",when in reality-you are often already saying these words to "them". The sooner this truth is accepted and constructively approached-the sooner a newer bigger expanding perception of "them" will emerge. Dance like nobody is watching..right? Well,for us this should be easy!

-Look at the event that took place yesterday. The crowded room of tables,some of them displaying their products,many of them (us?)simply interested in getting the word out there that they ..we?exist. Focused on... themselves? I am not slighting people for perceiving themselves as part of a community to try and participate in and operating from that principle forward. It is natural and means well. I know we all truly do mean well and try hard.

-----This is why ultimately my interest cycles back to the writers and critics of art. I find myself excited by the level playing field that is the internet. I love that it was called as in its "wild west" days yesterday. I think this analogy implies that the future will reveal constructs that define it with rules,but i dont want to go there. The truth is,none of us wants that. Not really.

-Critics also have to attempt to establish a perceived position of,...respect.

-The process reveals itself if it directs the thoughts towards a truer sense of self. (aka: in search of shrodinger's phoenix)

-Critics and arts writers and anyone inclined to type,be that typo on top of typo, expressing themselves about art- Their DUTY in this whole picture is to give feedback to....who? Ourselves. And who is ourselves?? Well,we've no choice but to realize that for the most part,we have met each other. Or at the very least,have met enough of each other that it is a place to start. A place to start considering what the other does and if there are commonalities there. If there are,foster them by joining forces and curating shows together. Even if there are not commonalities,it is a place to openly debate.
ndividual artists should embrace anothers work they like. Perhaps this means to not attempt to idolize them or make yourself seem positioned as something or somebody removed or inaccessible because of various conceived earned 'statures" or needs for being careful with networking your art.

yes-Discretion takes place tactfully(or not!!! )around the tastes and focuses of what you choose to include and what not to include. Inother words,if you find someones opinion so unagreeable-say something. put yourself in relevance to them just long enough . Much of what is taking place has ot do with if we are telling people what to want or giving them what they want,and involve din that is everyones responsibility to try to be open to things we would not normally be open to-even tho i support peoples rights to not care...its a funny cycle.

All of this is a local concern. Specific to the needs of Atlanta. The goal should be to react to one another's art.

By means of verbally critqueing in order to learn or teach,or to simply foster ideas.
-The highest form of reaction in my mind is not the purchase. In ways the purchase is the most selfish.

The creation of your own work- that carries forward the work and influence of another-is the highest and most constructive ackowledgment.
-On ideas: The best to me would be ideas being generated that are about Atlanta and NOW IN aTLANTA.

-The art critics stand in a fascinating position to all of this.
First,I don't feel this city really has any "art critics". It has people who report on what they see,assuming the rest of the context has already been constructed for the art to be valued within. It is about applying perspective not only to the art,but to the context it is shown in. They are creating this by the voice they establish. The art writers cannot try to be impartial reporters. It is not some generalized duty of benevolent informers, they are not some impartial mirror or a cold eye of the camera.

-Yes,the doing it for the love of it aspect is appreciated, I do not down-play this. But. They report about art and have an obligation to fully throwing their perspective into what they do. The artists they are reporting on,in theory, do as well. Give them that respect,and if you feel they have not given it to you,tell them.

-As it stands now,it truly seems there is a mirroring taking place of expectations. The fully thrown in sense of self bubbles to a perceived surface and ultimately finds everything falling flat. Its an evident cycle that always wants to assume that the advertising and maketing is to blame.

-Great art becomes mixed in with the complacent gestural reviews that take place. Nobody wants to stand up and say that somebody's hard work,in their educated and indiviuduated opinion- failed.Especially if that person is perceived to be part of some big chain of pre-existing relations. Chances are,if they are,they need to have their playing field leveled. ( i ultimately feel there is not choice but to blame the art itself-on critical terms.)

The whole process and observing it. It says more about one's perception of themselves in ways. I realize this as I type this. It is somewhat self-fulfilling. The simplified place to begin the change is in realizing that criticism is constructive. To observe the entire context the art exists in,to create "a lie that tells the truth" about this would even be okay! That lie being-a truth-(ahem)that....Things are changing!

-It becomes difficult because many artists would rather say what they have to say with their art. Not many artists are comfortable discussing why they create what they create in "real time". Or online for that matter. This is why I find the role of the critic crucial. They do this for us when we cannot,and if the critic does a disagreable job-as long as it is passionate!-,it at least stages a beginning. The old axiom about any PR is good PR is true. Especially if the opinions expressed are emotionally driven and provoke emotion.
Regardless of agreed perspectives. Often ,it is vehemently disagreeable opinions that provoke dialogue-not the routine gestures of clippable print praises that go on your Aunt Bobby's refrigerator! Those are nice and fun,but....we all know where we are. Together. Alone. With each other. And that's plenty to start with!

-It's okay to take the idea of community truly to a level that is only about community.The conceptual or valued varieties of context still reside within.
-Community- also considers an idea of getting together and,symbolically speaking,helping plant trees and clean up trash for an afternoon. Not being concerned with any perceived earnings or commandings of respect or even 'safety" for your idea of yourself and the supposed image you have created. How many would be willing to take chances of being honest, tho? Are you willing to make that investment,to possibly sacrifice the gesture on top of gesture that has perhaps "earned" some of you something? (of course, in some cases those earnings manifest as Grants,etc..). So that you can sit at panelled discussion tables and show by your own words how truly unaware you actually are?
To show- How you have been dedicated to a complacent expectation of yourself and a perceived goal that is a selfish illusion that you perpetuate to what is ultimately your own end.Our repeated end, So that you may reap some vampiric gestural benefit right now.

The wall to throw art against needs to be built by rippin down the fake existing one and fertilizing the rubble with honesty.good old fashioned titlliating scary puttin' yrself out there- honesty. It starts with critical discussion of the art itself.

Burroughs wrote about the concept of a naked lunch. Seeing what is on the end of your fork for what it really is. I find this illusion of a community to be a caring one. It truly cares and is trying. I simply find that it is often in denial or confusing complacency with compassion.

(individuals i was photographing above were Evan Levy, Robert Cheatham & -in the middle distance- Jon Ciliberto. To me, these are three important members of our "community". Maybe some of the other individuals caught in the frame mean something to you. Who are important local art figures to you?)

1 comment:

  1. I must say I appreciate your frequent quotation of my alltime hero René Daumal (not that my unathletic self has gotten a tenth as far as he got on the slopes of Mount Analogue).

    Since this post parallels some of the things I have been saying more openly on Counterforces lately, I'm glad I took this long to click through on's link.

    The excuse for not saying that someone has failed used to be that there were only so many column inches of print, and it was more important to point to the relative degrees of success. Today it's more like what one feels like expending the effort and enduring being pilloried for. It would be interesting for someone to stand up and say what the level of achievement in Atlanta at large is, vis-a-vis the rest of the world (not the best of the rest of the world, but the rest of the world...since the vast majority of serious artists of whatever stripe will never be in one of the world's two hundred biennials, which often recycle the usual suspects in proximity to selected locals). But to be able to say that accurately, one would have had to have the money to travel or have had the leisure and the online smarts to peruse a vast number of localized websites.

    This is, incidentally, one reason I defend the concept of the listserv rather than the website keeps the flame wars away from the accidental gaze of the entire planet, not that the entire planet cares very much.



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