Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Living the permanent recession

Over at NYFA Current, Hrag Vartanian has a group of interviews with artists regarding how the "great recession" has affected them and their work. Artists reading this will likely find that their personal experience in this downturn is shared by many in the field. Despite many diminishing returns, perhaps things aren't quite as bad as they seem.

We are in the midst of one of the worst economic recessions in living memory. As a result, there has been a great deal of talk about gallery closings and plummeting art market prices as the barometers of the economic affects on the art world—but what about the artists themselves?

I reached out to dozens of artists in New York and was initially surprised that many artists I spoke with seemed unfazed by the recession, though many expressed anxiety about the future. When I posted my request on Twitter for stories from the frontlines, I received a tweet from Brooklyn-based video painter Jason Varone who summed it up best, "...most artists I know live in a permanent recession."

My conversations with artists highlighted the fact that most of them do not support themselves exclusively through their art. Their personal finances are not as deeply effected by the downturn in the art market as much as the general economic malaise that has caused lay-offs in all fields. I was struck by the general optimism shared by most artists, who are appreciative of having more time to concentrate on their work. What follows here are their stories of navigating the current economic maelstrom. (Vartanian)

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