Art: We're Here To Please

Regine just posted about some artists in the Hungarian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale who made portable chairs available to visitors, [correction: turns out the chairs were sponsor-driven, not artist-driven.] and it got me thinking about the customer service side of artviewing, especially in a setting like Venice.

So much art is about the White Cube, the experience of seeing it, a "critique" of the institution/process, but yet so little of that actual process is actually addressed. A curator friend once told me of escorting her trustees around Venice (the last one, when it was August-hot at the June opening), and they actually had to debate going to see some art based on whether or not the venue was air-conditioned.

An artist like Francesco Vezzolli makes his art movie-trailer-short, sex-filled, and full of fashion and celebrity in order to stand out from the blur of Venice's gossip-saturated, art-overloaded opening festivities. But that's just a shrewd reading and anticipation of the setting.

I just came back from Tokyo with a hoard of Takashi Murakami fans, which they were handing out to people as they got off the Roppongi subway stop. It's not art, I know, but it's an artist's move, based on a retailer/developer's understanding of the viewer experience.

Then there's Rirkrit Tiravanija's meals, or last Venice's Utopia Station, to an extent. Or 2001's Venice cafe collaboration between Olafur Eliasson and Tobias Rehburger and ___ [I forget, but it doesn't matter, because apparently it was altered so badly the artists removed their name from it. Somewhere in there, it lost the sanctity that non-artists grant to artwork.]

So what I'd love to see, I guess, is some kind of art-as-customer-service, someone who toys with or explores or highlights the fact that viewing and encountering and contemplating art is often --not exclusively, or even mostly, but often, and especially in the event-centered cases of fairs, biennials, and openings where much of the "art world" places itself-- a cultural experience, an activity that its viewers choose over shopping, movies, other forms of travel or tourism, reading, what have you.

Anyway, just rambling when I should be heading out. It's so hot, I think I'll take one of these fans.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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first published: August 23, 2005.

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