Democratic Art Life

Polls Sep 11, 2007 No Comments

They say the only poll that matters is the one on election day. That may be true for electing governments, but it’s cold comfort for an art world where elections are never held and the people in charge step down only when they feel like it or die [whichever comes first].

That’s where The Art Life comes in – as we’ve said in the past, we’re the only participatory democracy on the web. For the last three and a half years we’ve been putting up polls asking what you, the punters of the art world, truly believe. The answers have been an illuminating insight into the fetid recesses of your dark psyches and as mysterious as a 18 point poll lead in a never-ending Federal Election. After all this time, what can we say about the average Art Life poll respondent?

Any time now…

Well, we can say that 39 percent of Art Life readers like libraries “because that’s where all the books are” while 23 percent think a stack of books is a “good place for a wank”. You were unimpressed with The National Art School’s open letter to [soon to be possibly former] Prime Minister John Howard, believing it was already a lost cause, 34 percent asking “hasn’t that place closed already?” while 38 percent agree that living icon Robert Hughes is “some old guy who lives in New York.”

But on to more important matters – such as art. Art Life readers like a conceptual challenge, such as ruminating on the relationship between art & design:

Design is to art as

Utility is to concept 8%
Looking good is to feeling good 28%
A tea pot is to an art museum 10%
Shopping at DJs is to buying art supplies 20%
Smooth and frictionless is to sharp and pointy 9%
Number one is to number two 25%

…or the philosophical implications of naming an object a “painting”:

A painting is…

Hangs on a wall, is blue 2%
A square or rectangle covered in pigment 8%
Any shape or size, with or without pigment 8%
A sculpture, film or hook rug 9%
A sound investement 9%
A thing that collects dust on the top edge 13%
Whatever I say it is dammit 53%

…or working out how to solve the never-ending crisis in art school funding:

The answer to the art school funding crisis is

Close ’em down now and let God sort it out 9%
Amalgamate all art schools into one huge institution 2%
Provide the Universities with realistic funding levels 34%
Hand over tertiary education to the private sector 2%
Make the courses more attractive to students 3%
Make the students more attractive to staff 16%
Whinge and moan about being “special” then die 17%
Forget about education altogther and just dance 17%

Art Life readers are typically unimpressed with art world icons. Not only did Robert Hughes score poorly, so did Brett Whiteley. When we asked you to consider the legacy of Whiteley it was a dead heat in the voting between celebrating his genius [“a great Australian painter” – 33 percent] and driving a stake through his heart [“dear god, won’t someone let him die?” – 33 percent].

You don’t have much time for glamorous art exhibitions either. What did you think of The Venice Biennale for 2007? You simply refused to answer the question with 32 percent declaring “you people make me sick.” [In the same poll, 18 percent accurately described the Biennale as being a “big exhibition held every two years’ while 28 percent spitefully noticed the city is “slowly sinking into the sea”]. At the other end of the scale, local shows such as the annual Sculpture By The Sea gets short shrift:

Sculpture By The Sea…

Highly valued focus for sculpture practice 3%
One-in-all-in sculpture prize fiesta 6%
A pleasant walk by the ocean on a sunny day 14%
Should be “Sculpture In the Sea” 15%
One piece of crap after another 27%
Three dimensional version of the Archibald Salon des Refuses 14%
A serious interruption to South Head cottaging 5%
Where’s the big tank? 15%

Art Life readers are a self-absorbed lot, likely to become morose by seeking solace in the bottle [25 percent opting to “drown my sorrows” if their gallery was to close, leaving them unrepresented] or lashing out unexpectedly, 36 percent believing that they weren’t going anywhere [“I aint going nowhere b-aitch”.] But what of people who work in galleries? Two recent polls proved revealing. People working in commercial galleries don’t want to be there:

Working at a commercial art gallery I…

Answer phones, organise shows 4%
Build my knowledge of the art biz 7%
Loiter in the stock room, smoke 9%
Flip through mags, ignore visitors 16%
Waste time surfing the net, playing Warcraft 15%
Dress like my boss coz they make me 15%
Apply for jobs in public art museums 18%
Have little interest in art 15%

…and people working in artist-run galleries shouldn’t be there either:

Working at an artist run gallery I…

Just popped out for 15 minutes 16%
Will eventually pass on phone messages 1%
Charge 33 percent for just being here 9%
Don’t own a plasma screen TV 4%
Have no public liability insurance 10%
Have an e-mailing list swiped from another gallery 17%
Where’s the electricity actually coming from??? 7%
Charge $1 extra for beers to cover costs 11%
See the potential that this place could be so much more 6%
Don’t actually work here, I’m the artist 19%

So who is running the art world then? Our most recent poll reveals that Art Life readers are people with time on their hands, follow direction from their superiors well, and are loyal to their institutions. Yes, we can now reveal that The Art Gallery of NSW is the “best” art museum in the country, with a very close second place for The Australian Reptile Park – which is amazing considering the road washed at out at Sommersby and the only way you could possibly get into the Reptile Park is by climbing over dangerous fences and breaking in. But as a reader known only as Michael observed “The responses to the question of which is the best art museum in Australia might be construed as partisan or perhaps linked to where most respondents live and the number of reptiles in the art world…”

Best art museum in the country?

Art Gallery of NSW 29%
Museum of Contemporary Art 17%
National Gallery of Australia 5%
National Gallery of Victoria 11%
Gallery of Modern Art 8%
Art Gallery of South Australia 2%
Art Gallery of Western Australia 2%
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery 4%
Museum & Art Gallery of the NT 1%
Australian Reptile Park 22%

The Art Life

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