Breaking news, I know.
After a recent incident, I felt like writing this text. Continuing with the theme of demystifying the art realm I would like to phrase this very clearly:
Artists are no gods and should be held accountable for their shit.
To start this serious topic in a fun way let’s have a look at this ranking from the Ranker with the accurate headline: Artist Who Were Bad People.
It might be rooted in the fact that I study at an art school and work with artists myself that I do not see them as sacred creatures who deserve to be worshipped. Of course, I admire art and I am very able to separate my appreciation of the actual art piece and my opinion on the artist. It is not one and the same thing. An online article that is describing very well this difference between piece and person written by Charles MacGrath and published in the New York Times carrying the suiting headliner: Good Art, Bad People.
That being said, artists are able to do bad things and as MacGrath asks in his article: “Why should artists be any better than the rest of us?”
The fact that people create art should not excuse their (crap) behaviour. Neither should admirers of art that nor should artists themselves think that. However, during my time at the art university, I sadly do experience the opposite.
For many people involved in the art scene the end does indeed justify the means. “But I am an artist” is a phrase I have heard a lot. Sometimes it is used as an explanation for whatever fuckery just happened and sometimes it is some kind of legitimation for some fuckery that is supposed to come. I mean… wtf.
The idea of writing this text occurred to me when I witnessed an artist yelling at a lady at the museums. The latter refused to acknowledge the artist’s press card because it was not following the guidelines. In reply to that, the artist started shouting that “she is an established artist performing at the Berlin Biennale and that she always gets into museums for free”. The people who overheard the fact that she is an artist were looking at her awestruck as if it excused anything. At that moment I did not really care if that statement was true or not. (It is true though) She could have been Andrea Fraser herself and it would still be not okay to show up somewhere and behave as aggressive as she does now.
Since I am not an established artist myself I like to compare them to the mentors at my school. Would Hito Steyerl behave that way? Would Olafur Eliasson? What would have been their reaction when they would have been there? Is it even relevant to be an artist yourself in order to criticise one?
“I am a well-established artist performing at the Venice Biennale and I pay for my ticket because that’s what people do.” ?
Artists might do think and work differently but so do mechanical engineers and doctors. Do we grant them extra treatments? Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think that’s a thing.
To come back to the linked articles: After the incident, I researched on that artist and she did indeed perform at the Berlin Biennale on several occasions and her work is indeed fascinating. Would I see her show? Probably. Does this make her behaviour any less terrible? No, it won’t.