On 1st July 2017, I went to the Art Night East London;
a multiple site specific art installation
festival bringing artwork from
well known household names to open previously inaccessible spaces in the East End.
Phillips was the main sponsor of the event, with other art scene suppliers advertising, generating revenue through sales of the Art Night guide.
The event was on for one day and night only, with a small number of venues charging whereas the majority were free. Because of the unusual space settings which have traditionally been off the limits, the event brought back the question, which has for years been discussed by art critics, student and professionals alike:
At which point does art stop being art to become a consumed product?
(Jake and Dinos Chapman installation in Wapping, London, United Kingdom during the East End Art Fair, July 2017)
Art Night came across as a very effortless marketing exercise, in terms of the promotion and advertising activity prior to the show days. We had not seen hurdles of promotional material however on the day of the event, long queues of people were trailing around warehouse and quirky spaces for a considerable length of time to often only access a 10-15 min installation. Many of the people in the queues were not your traditional Eastend artsy crowd. They had travelled from from afar to be there or were not actively making a living from the scene.
The event was free and incredibly engaging – it created high quality experiences in places that otherwise would remain empty, behind closed doors. Unquestionably the choice of venues, artists and medium worked really well covering a diverse range of artistic approaches.
When discussing the line between art, and a business generating enterprise, many of the artists I know, in their self-reflective state, feel awkward about the divide between taking on commissions to make ends meet and making art for art’s sake.
Most of them would have begun interacting with their art because of their love for creative expression.
Is creating art an act of selfishness, does it ‘talk’ to its audience, in an educational context or is it experiential?
Does selling your art make you more famous, or is it more important that it makes your work more recognizable?
I look back at all the well-known artists with exhibitions in large institutions and feel they did need to be present ‘in the circuit’ for their work to be made accessible.
The isolated lone ones, were discovered after their or very near the end of their lives.
So in that sense, art does require an element of interaction in order of being validated. However does it need to be of a monetary value?