Friday 04th March 2016Artist Spotlight: Alice Smeets & Atis Rezistans
On this week's edition of Artist Spotlight, we're going to look at the collaborative work of award-winning documentary photography Alice Smeets and a Haitian artist collective named Atis Rezistans. The project is actually not overly recent, but may not have received the widespread note that the odd mixture of haunting and downright weird deserved. Entitled 'The Ghetto Tarot', the project was an attempt to turn the images from the world-famous Rider-Waite tarot deck into a series of photographs using nothing more than materials available in the ghettos of Port-au-Prince.
Smeets recalled some of the stranger moments that occurred during the extended photoshoot. "There have been plenty of little, funny moments. One example: when we were shooting the scene of the Death card, I asked the artists if they had real skulls to place them in the picture. Five minutes later, Claudel, one of the artists and my dearest assistant, came along holding a plastic bag filled with skulls in his hands as if it was the most normal thing in the world to carry dead people's heads around.
It constantly surprised me how the artists almost always found immediately what I asked for. For the picture of the High Priestess, we needed horns to place them next to her feet. I hadn’t let them known beforehand that we would be in need of them. As soon as Claudel found out, he ran and came back a moment later with two horns in his hands. They never told me where they found all of the materials, they just happened to lay around somewhere in the Ghetto."
The end result of the project is a tarot deck with the created photos, which is available for sale for 35 euros on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding site that provided the funding for the entire project, totalling almost 50,000 euros.
There is an odd mixture of successes and failures in the images, some of which are incredibly striking and others which seem more like a lazy art school project - although to be fair, the same thing could be said of the original Rider-Waite illustrations with equal applicability.
“The spirit of the Ghetto Tarot project is the inspiration to turn negative into positive while playing. The group of artists ‘Atiz Rezistans’ use trash to create art with their own visions that are a reflection of the beauty they see hidden within the waste. They are claiming the word ‘Ghetto,’ thus freeing themselves of its depreciating undertone and turning it into something beautiful.”
Posted on March 04th 2016 on 04:40am
Friday 21st August 2015Jodorowsky the Crowdfunder
Crowdfunding has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately, and with good reason. We even discussed the practice in more detail earlier this month, so take a look back if you want a deeper look at it. As far as funding models go, it's often a bit difficult to find something that could rightly be called revolutionary - and while crowdfunding isn't exactly a new principle, the ease with which it can now be used by just about anyone in the world (remember the practical joker who raised $50,000 to make potato salad?) is certainly revolutionary.
It's not just tech startups and internet trolls that are making use of modern crowdfunding platforms, however. Legendary surrealist filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky is going to be crowdfunding his newest film, which is entitled 'Endless Poetry' (Poesía Sin Fin). The funding goal is a remarkably conservative $150,000, which puts to shame all the ridiculously overblown budgets that Hollywood is known for. In the first six days, the project had already raised over $42,000 USD, which is fairly impressive in and of itself.
The film itself is going to be centered on the life of the artist as a young man, growing up in Santiago, Chile, and his search for beauty in the world, surrounded by some of the most influential artists in his young life. After the spectacular and widely-publicised failure of the incredible and epic version of Dune that Jodorowsky created, it's perfectly understandable that he's grown extremely frustrated with the classic methods of funding movies.
“How can an auteur survive with American cinema’s colonization of the entire world? We are slaves to the economy, then we go to the cinema to distract ourselves for an hour and a half, and when we leave, we become constricted once again. Nothing has changed in our lives. A true piece of art has to change the very spirit of people. When I go to a theater, I should exist a different person. The movie must give me something—hope, knowledge, a hidden beauty kept inside that I didn’t even know was there.”
Now that would certainly revive flagging movie sales. Here's hoping his latest film will be just as surrealistically magical as the films he is best known for.
Posted on August 21st 2015 on 06:44pm
Friday 07th August 2015Crowdfunding your Artwork
While it might sound romantic, and even be slightly enjoyable at first, being a starving artist sort of stinks when you get right down to it. Unless you've already made it as an established artist, it's more than likely that you've got a job that helps you pay bills, keep a roof over your head, and make sure your stomach is at least partly full. Wouldn't it be a dream come true to be able to do ditch the job and spend all your time working on your passion? Undeniably, unless you're one of those lucky and clever people who have also found a job that they truly enjoy doing.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last decade or so, you've probably heard the term 'crowdfunding'. You might even have supported a project that you were interested in. Essentially, crowdfunding is exactly what it sounds like - funding a project with small donations from a crowd of people, instead of a single wealthy patron. But did you know that there is a growing community of artists, writers and musicians who rely on crowdfunding to support their projects? A relative few, but the number is growing along with the popularity of the crowdfunding model itself.
It can be a daunting experience, to begin with, but the rewards are great if you succeed. If you're already comfortable building up a crowd of your own, a loyal following of fans, then you're well on your way to crowdfunding your next project already, as this is often the biggest stumbling block for artists - we tend to be an introverted lot, after all. At least with crowdfunding, you can ask for help digitally instead of in person!
There are a number of crowdfunding platforms available, from the grandfather of them all, Kickstarter, to IndieGoGo and GoFundMe, each with its own various benefits and pitfalls. The biggest pitfall tends to be that unless you reach your project's funding goal, all the money is returned to your donors. The exception to this is IndieGoGo, but they charge a higher fee for those types of projects. Explore the various options, take a look at the plans, and decide which site seems right for you. Then stop and examine the most successful projects, and use them as a model for how to design your campaign. Determining funding goals, the way you tell your story, and what you offer to your donors can make or break your campaign. You may not succeed your first time around - but learn from your mistakes, and try, try again, and you may just be able to live out that dream of making your passion your only job.
Posted on August 07th 2015 on 03:00pm
Friday 26th September 2014Crowdfunding the Arts Ramps Up
Traditionally, the art world has existed on almost the opposite of crowdfunding. At least in the European tradition, an artist would do his best (traditionally, the European masters have largely been men, as unfair as that is) to impress a single wealthy patron who would then undertake to fund all of the artist's subsequent costs - within reason, of course. This would often extend to providing food, lodging and materials in exchange for the first bite at the apple, and the right to request any sort of commission that the patron may wish to have undertaken. In modern terms, the closest analog would likely be a monthly retainer, although lawyers and the like often have many clients that pay retainers.
Recently, however, we discussed the change in this dynamic that originally begun with the impressively novel crowdfunding site named Kickstarter. For those that haven't yet heard of the site, the essential premise of the site is that people can post project proposals online, and have it funded by a large number of individuals making small contributions, as opposed to a single wealthy patron bankrolling the entire project. While the previous discussion was limited to art galleries in the UK, this time around the effort is being undertaken in cooperation with what is arguably the world's most popular art fair (another model which is dramatically shaking up the art world), Art Basel. Known for hosting wildly successful art fairs originally in Basel and then expanding to the somewhat unlikely satellite locations of Hong Kong and Miami Beach, Art Basel has started a formal partnership with Kickstarted in the hopes of encouraging viewers to support non-profit art groups using the crowdfunding site and model.
Named the Art Basel Crowdfunding Initiative, the project has already begun it's first foray into the crowdfunding scene with four projects, which cover and impressively diverse spectrum of content and funding requirement. SculptureCenter, in New York, is hoping to raise $12,000; Gasworks in London is hoping to raise roughly $65,000; Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (a terrible name, it must be said) is hoping to raise $5,000 for a concert series in Los Angeles; and the 4A Center for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney, Australia is hoping to raise $18,000. Here's to hoping that the crowdfunding model can provide the much-needed support these projects require to get off the ground!
Posted on September 26th 2014 on 12:05am
Friday 06th June 2014Crowdfunding Galleries
Unless you've been living on the Moon for the last few years, you've probably run across the term 'crowdfunding'. If you haven't heard of it before, the concept is actually extremely simple, albeit incredibly powerful. It uses a 'pay-what-you-can' model distributed over a large number of potential customers to acquire funding for projects. There are often various tiers of contributors, so that those who contribute more to a project get more out of it than those who make the minimum contribution.
For example, say you want to make a documentary, but need money for development costs and have no film studio contacts or capital. Posting your plan on a crowdfunding site, you would entice people to contribute to your documentary project. People who contribute $5 get a mention in the film credits, people who contribute $20 get a copy of the film and a credit mention, people who contribute $40 get an additional 'Making Of' documentary, the film itself, and a credit mention, etc. Once your goal is reached, the money is released and you can begin to work on your film.
The most popular crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are enabling entirely new revenue models across the creative sphere, from video game development to documentary filmmaking to industrial engineering. But at long last, the crowdfunding model has reached into the gallery world - at least, in the United Kingdom.
A new project entitled Art Happens has been launched by the charity Art Fund, in an attempt to bring the incredible power of crowdfunding to the UK art world. Five galleries so far have launched projects using the Art Happens platform: St. Fagan's National History Museum in Cardiff, the Bowes Museum in County Durham, Compton Verney in Warwickshire, the Museum of the Gorge in Shropshire, and the Jerwood Gallery in East Sussex. At the moment, the most popular project is only 12% funded, with 18 contributors and 74 days left to reach the fundraising goal. This, quite naturally, begs the question of whether or not the initial selections are interesting enough for those who follow the tech-centric crowdfunding payment model, or whether the project simply has yet to go viral, which everyone appreciates is an incredibly difficult thing to predict.
With luck, the Art Happens project will trigger other galleries and artists to begin to explore new methods of financing their projects - after all, nobody really wants to be too much of a starving artist!
Posted on June 06th 2014 on 02:59pm