Published in Organizing Artists: A Document and Directory of the National Association of Artists’ Organizations. Washington DC: NAAO, 1992, pp. 57-61).
Alternative spaces were born and have survived because of the need felt by artists to take control of their own work, their own lives. In the ’90s, this mandate will force artists’ organizations onto the front lines of other struggles as well. Make no mistake: Congress’s recent attempt to censor the arts is not primarily about art; it is about the imposition of a single, unified culture by a (European male conservative) minority onto the entire country. They are simply coming after artists first. Artists’ organizations can stay on the front line in this struggle or they can be overrun—there is no other option. If alternative spaces are to be maintained only out of inertia or out of nostalgia for the ’60s and ’70s (as the only surviving institutions of the counterculture), then they are not worth the effort. If, on the other hand, artists’ organizations engage with contemporary artistic and social concerns, if they serve contemporary artists’ needs, media, and goals, and if they make possible a reimagining of society and human life that neither the right wing’s unified culture nor the art world’s museum culture is capable of, then their survival is indeed crucial, not only to the art world but to the wider society as well.
To continue reading this essay at artdesigncafe.com, click Alternative exhibition spaces, alternative futures. Click the following link to see the overview of writings by Glenn Harper at artdesigncafe.com.
- Glenn Harper
- Washington, DC, United States
- I have been, among other things, a bookshop owner, counterintelligence agent, writer, art critic, and grad student (literature and art). One of my blogs includes some examples of my art writing, from the past decade, with some new pieces forthcoming. But my most frequent new posts are to my crime fiction blog, International Noir Fiction.