August 16, 2019

Notes from the Field: Finding a research process for SWAP in Cleveland

Here’s a closely-guarded secret of the art world, one of those things I believe no one is supposed to admit aloud: nobody knows what is supposed to happen during a studio visit.

The studio visit is regarded as one of those crucial times, where a visiting dignitary will alight upon an artist’s most intimate work space, and evaluate all that they see. There is a desire to present oneself as brightly as possible; there is an urge to tidy up, to set out materials and takeaways. There is a sense that this is the moment.

I have been on the visiting end and the receiving end of studio visits, and in the interest of piercing the veil here: no one knows what they are looking for on a studio visit, until they see it. I am attracted to spaces, as much as discrete objects; I am just as likely to have a sense of an artist from the way they arrange their space as from the thing they decide to present.

Here is a second disclosure, one that is perhaps less general in terms of the art world and all art criticism, but germane to my time here at SPACES, the mandate of which includes a suggestion of connecting with Cleveland artists and producing a written work that in some way reflects upon those findings: it is utterly impossible to develop a nuanced sense of place, scene, and art within a four-week span. Bless anyone willing to try it, but I am not. I feel prepared at this point to reflect upon the Detroit art scene only after being based there for nearly a decade, and having produced some 300+ pieces of art writing about individual events and artists; there is simply no way for me to wrap my hands around a new place in such a short span of time without being reductive. And I believe that a lack of nuance and desire for reductivity are malignant components to the social attention span these days.

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