Anything involving the latest media-generated art world character, Stefan Simchowitz, is likely to be more interesting as theater than commentary. But in the case of Jonathan Neil’s “debate” with Simchowitz in LA, there’s a valuable point being made here about the desire to participate in the conversation around art and the
Neil and Simchowitz divided their debate into rounds, clinking glasses of scotch before each. Or at least they did until Simchowitz’s father came up on stage and took the scotch away – he’d never seen his son drink and had to put an end to it, he said, then took a sip himself.
Neil wondered if digital image distribution – Simchowitz is a big proponent of social media – was good for the art. Does it diffuse the affect of the work? Does it get the right information out to the right audiences? Simchowitz argued that it was “absolutely positive.” He pointed out Keith Rivers, a Buffalo Bills linebacker, sitting in the front row. Rivers had learned much of what he knows from images on the internet, learning “more about contemporary art” than most people and “breaking his back and the back of others to do so.”
Simchowitz also added that it wasn’t fair to say that social media conversations aren’t critical. If you search Twitter and Instagram for #oscarmurillo (Murillo is a young painter who’s seen skyrocketing success these last few years) “you see different microbursts of criticism. . . . When added together, they have the [potency] of a review written by [The New York Times’] Roberta Smith.”
He added, “It’s an alternative system,” saying the barbarians, the self-taught, internet-savvy but not necessarily theory-savvy enthusiasts, were at the gates of the establishment with their bows and arrows out.
“Why do they want in?” Neil asked.
“For once, they can participate.”
Is Greed Good for Art? (LA Weekly)