Next: art fair death match (56)
the sholis files, continued
Post #638 • October 4, 2005, 10:36 AM • 25 Comments
I can hardly persuade myself to thumb through Artforum at the bookstore, just to look at the pictures. Reading its website never even occurs to me. Tyler persists at it, however, and thus observed that Brian Sholis (this Brian Sholis), recently erstwhile employee of D'Amelio Terras Gallery, has just reviewed a show at D'Amelio Terras Gallery for Artforum.com.
Looking into it, I noticed that D'Amelio Terras appears (happily, I would imagine) in the loathesome Marching Squares of Advertisement that appear on the right side of Artforum.com. Screen shot here.
Babies born of these unions would have two heads.
October 4, 2005, 11:41 AM
And connections, connections, connections.
October 4, 2005, 11:56 AM
So has Mr. Green removed Mr. Sholis from his blogroll?
October 4, 2005, 12:02 PM
I sure don't see it, Zeke.
October 4, 2005, 12:39 PM
Thanks for that, as I don't read Mr. Green it is always helpful to have an extra set of eyes. However, after doing some more research, it appears that Mr. Sholis used to work at D'Amelio Terras.
According to their current website his name doesn't appear on the list of staff. According to Google's cache from July 15 he did. And it appears that he worked for them in 2002 and 2003 as well.
And while I think it probably would have been appropriate for ArtForum to wait a little more than three months, (say six, or even a year) I can't really fault them for getting something from a former employee. It ain't like they're gonna demand a full CV and full-disclosure for a 220 word piece designed to make an advertiser happy.
October 4, 2005, 12:39 PM
I did not criticize Brian's blog or the validity of his blog. His last blog post was in August, and he has done two or three blog posts since mid-June. His absence from my blogroll is a result of the inactivity on In Search, not on his merits as a human, a writer, etc. There are lots of people with whom I regularly disagree on my blogroll.
October 4, 2005, 1:03 PM
... it appears that Mr. Sholis used to work at D'Amelio Terras.
That's what erstwhile means, my friend. At any rate, you're right - more time was in order, but I keep looking at that screen shot and seeing gallery, writer, and magazine holding hands and singing Kumbaya. "Someone's sculpting, my Lord..."
October 4, 2005, 1:09 PM
And, quite to my surprise, ArtForum does have a policy in place.
"Artforum's policy is that a reviewer cannot cover any exhibitions at a gallery that he or she has dealt with (whether as an employee, a freelance writer for a gallery-published catalog, or otherwise) for one year after the date of last contact." And then according to Mr. Sholis himself - the Google cache is a tad out of date, he stopped working there in 2004, and discussed the issue with his editors at some length before writing about the show.
This now brings the number to three of people that I know of, that for some reason or another Mr. Green has decided to slur for unknown reasons.
October 4, 2005, 1:24 PM
Just because ArtForum has a policy does not mean that it has an ethical policy, or that its practices pass unquestioned.
October 4, 2005, 2:01 PM
Ask 10 people what "erstwhile" means, Franklin, and of any 10 who profess to know 7 will say "worthy, honest, friendly" or something like that.
it is one of those words, like "meld" which loses its meaning because of the nature of its sund.
October 4, 2005, 2:02 PM
...nature of its SOUND. Sorry.
October 4, 2005, 5:15 PM
Let me ask this: even if Sholis stopped working for the gallery in 2004, does New York City have so few galleries and so few art writers that the latter must occasionally cover galleries that once employed them?
October 4, 2005, 5:36 PM
Franklin, we all know this is a shabby little business, but but what really strikes me is that the parties directly involved had to know it would most likely be found out, and they still went ahead with it. In other words, they don't care because they don't feel they have much to worry about, and in practical terms, they're probably right. It's all a game, and the game's about money and position; the art, such as it is, is mostly a convenient tool.
October 4, 2005, 9:59 PM
A one-year ban on writing on a former employer sounds like a good idea, but isn't it simply a basic element of journalistic practice - which I would like to assume Artforum would consider itself bound by - to give routine full disclosure of a prior relationship? It doesn't have to be a big deal - in the opinion biz, it seems that a simply parathetical, placed anywhere in the article, does the job ("full disclosure: I served for five years as executive assistant to Al Goldstein", or something like that.) Not such a burden - I've actually done a version of this myself when blogging about institutions with which I have or have had relationships. If the fear was that doing so would undermine the review, then the answer, as others have noted, was to get someone else to do the job. It's not like it was a major feature or something - get to the gallery, check it out and write two paragraphs. Shouldn't be so hard to do.
October 4, 2005, 10:17 PM
When did you ever find real criticism at that magazine? If they knew they weren't going for that, why not give the job to someone who already knows the gallery, or to anyone.
October 4, 2005, 11:53 PM
Basic journalistic practices? Dudes, I don't think there are many major newspapers around anymore who give much more than lip service to such notions... I cannot imagine being overly surprised to find an art rag lacking in that regard.
Somebody will have to sic the folks at FAIR on their asses.
October 5, 2005, 12:16 PM
Who cares? This doesn't surprise me, nor should it. It's a 200 word description of the show, as are all of the "reviews" posted on Artforum's site. Their actual articles are getting better of late. If they want to post short blurbs that are more like previews on their site, let them. Who is it hurting, really?
FWIW, Brian is an earnest (not to be confused with erstwhile) enough guy. He’s excited about art and has a keen eye. He's young (24 or 25, I think?), works hard, has done well for himself and, as far as I can tell, is self-made. Give him a few years.
October 5, 2005, 12:37 PM
Imposing rules on the art world is like trying to package farts. It is a wide open system with no rules and it is corrupt to the extent that it is corruptable. Lots of people in it have behaved in ways that would make them pariahs in any other human endeavor and they have gone on to get rich and famous and celebrated. Not only that, but I don't want to encourage the high and righteous. There is too much of that all around us already.
The problem with Brian Sholis, earnest, erstwhile or whatever, is not that he is corrupted but that he can write that two artists "divvy up the parameters". If we are going to have draconian retribution in this business, let's do it for bad writing and bad art.
October 5, 2005, 8:02 PM
Subject: Divvying Up Farts
Donald Rumsfeld the secretary of Defense was briefing the President at their morning meeting, and mentioned that 3 Brazilian soldiers had been killed. The President immediately cradled his head in his hands, showing signs of great grief, then turned to Rumsfeld and asked "How many is a Brazillion ?"
October 5, 2005, 8:56 PM
A brazillion is twice as many zillion as you think.
October 5, 2005, 9:05 PM
If they want to post short blurbs that are more like previews on their site, let them. Who is it hurting, really?
If we are going to have draconian retribution in this business, let's do it for bad writing and bad art.
Arts writing as an exercise in mutual backscratching doesn't interest me. The quality of the writing, important-sounding but vapid, and the mutual backscratching seem to go hand-in-hand. Real criticism based on meaningful observations doesn't serve the interests of any of these three parties.
October 5, 2005, 11:20 PM
Real criticism based on meaningful observations doesn't serve the interests of any of these three parties.
Bingo. So guess one reason so much so-called art criticism sucks. And guess one reason so many people who live for art appear to be perfectly comfortable with such a state of affairs.
October 6, 2005, 5:56 PM
I agree bad writing should be called out. But I have never taken the blurbs on artforum.com seriously, so why start now by getting upset about something a kid named Brian wrote about a gallery he worked for last year? Isn't that a little picking at nits? (I should know the answer to this one)
The features in the magazine, however, are real writing. I take that much more seriously than the website, unfortunately. Occasionally a good review gets published, but most good reviews in magazines are not in American magazines.
I, too, would like to see more and better criticism, (or even better, writing about IDEAS) but I'm not out there trying to write it and change it yet, so I'm not going to cry about it.
October 6, 2005, 6:51 PM
I take that much more seriously than the website, unfortunately.
Consider why: You don't take it seriously because Artforum is doing nothing serious with it. Not only unserious, but disingenuous. Cynical, even.
I'm not out there trying to write it and change it yet, so I'm not going to cry about it.
I am. If the magazine is going to use up its credibility, fine. Tyler and I have the right to call it out.
October 6, 2005, 7:35 PM
Franklin, based on the odious website alone, Artforum has already forfeited credibility, certainly respectability. They don't give a shit, because they know their target audience, and it's not made up of people like you or me. It's made up of people who either don't mind such a website or actually like it.
October 4, 2005, 11:21 AM
You don't need two heads, Franklin. All you need is a mouth and an asshole.