Tuesday, July 07, 2009

an inside job

Yesterday Tyler weighed in on the Jerry Saltz vs. MoMA phenomenon. I briefly mentioned the discussion between Saltz and MoMA curator Ann Temkin in this post from last week.

Tyler expresses his disappointment that Saltz's campaign is essentially ghetto-ized, i.e., taking place for the benefit of his (presumably art-world oriented) Facebook friends, and not reaching the broader audience that a crossover critic like Saltz--someone who is a contemporary art insider, but who writes for the general public--could reach, if he wanted to. He points to this as yet another sign of the decline of arts journalism.

I think Tyler's on to something. I hate to say it, but because of the novelty of seeing this unfold on Facebook, the thought that Saltz might just be preaching to the choir hadn't occurred to me.

Having said that: Is Saltz's facebook network really so small a neighborhood? Doesn't holding the discussion there allow the 5,000 friends who did read it to disseminate that content in other places, as Ed Winkleman did by reprinting it on his blog? (Which is arguably just another neighborhood in the same ghetto...but, hey.)

I also have to wonder exactly how engaged the general public has been with this particular fight of Saltz's. Isn't the visual art world at its highest levels all about privilege? That's the prevailing assumption amongst non-artsies I know, anyway, so latent gender discrimination within the halls of an elite arts institution is probably no surprise to them, and confirms what they already think.

Tyler would probably argue that disspelling those assumptions is exactly Saltz's job. And I think he'd be right.

But it seems to me that the question of really changing MoMA is whether you should apply pressure from within or without--rally the art world, or focus on educating everyone. In this instance, anyway, Saltz seems to have opted for an inside job.


Blogger Kate said...

People outside the art world care very little about art: it would indeed be surprising if they cared about the politics in our relatively small community...

9:07 AM  

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