This is a letter to all artists who may be concerned about their future status, position in contemporary art nowadays, financial incomes and outcomes , contributions and non-refundable efforts. As in every profession, there are always certain subjects that would try to benefit over you, taking you and your work for a grant and rather more just as an element to make a proper soup that would satisfy their inner hunger and of course support their already established positions. I shall be talking about the curators or artistic directors that got more dignities and attentions in medias then ever before. They would be the first on the list wrapped in the foil of special importance usually declared as international selectors, critics and so on… They would usually appear at the opening suited in some new feathers, they would be fragrant and sparkling on the lights, while an artist will be late for the opening trying to take a rest or wash the dirtiness and sweat collected while desperately trying to prove something that curator,critic or curo-manager may have taken wrong on it’s own account. However they ( the dignitaries ) may withdrawn you from the plain list, if you dared to be defensive. But sometimes the things may become much serious and if one is unable to recognize the crime in advance , they will continue their dreadful plan and finally benefit from your work and your blindness.
You are not going to get anything , and it would be the most benign situation that might occur out of everything. Why I am writing this report, not because I am jobless and have no idea what to do with my bloody fingers at the moment, but rather more that I have been recently and frequently irritated by some new pitiful information regarding the residence programs, art festivals, film festivals, galleries, art venues and so forth. Yesterday while browsing the internet, I found a intriguing announcement ( open call ) from some residence program in NY. They have stated that it will take a place from July-September and that an artist shall pay : $ 10,000.00 , that would be, they claim, the official costs for the space rental and some other costs. As a reward, they said, the residence will be frequently visited by prestige personalities from the art world, curators, collectors and so on and so fort. They stated also that amount would exclude living costs, accommodation, transportation… Then, I shall ask the question, am I responsible for donating $ 10.000,00 as a salary for established dignitaries from the art world ? What kind of costs I must pay according to the statement to exceed $ 10.000,00 ? Even for America , it smells on suspiciously killed cat. When you ask them , so what do you think how I am going to obtain that amount of money in order to support just a working space , they would always give you a typical answer : You must look for it in your country of origin. So, what for instance if someone’s country of accidental origin do not give a shit for any financial support ? Then you should ask someone else, preferably sponsors. The potential sponsor is asking, ‘’what kind of benefits I shall count on?’’ and the circle of hopes is becoming tighter and tighter until you might get strangled by that rope.
But to come back to the essence that forced me to write this article. Somewhere in early 2011 I have applied for an open call. It was about the biennial of art in NYC entitled NYBA 2012/13 . Of course, from the very beginning my sense for smell has never been crossing me, so I found several elements very disordered , slightly suspicious but nevertheless I have decided to continue on. So I sent them my formalities, photos, videos, digital portfolio, statement and so forth…and few months later somewhere in June 2011 I heard from friend of mine that my name popped up somewhere announcing that I am on the list. Soon afterwards , after trying to detect from which source I may occur , I figured out that the main source is Facebook account of an artistic director Pietro Franesi. So, anyway, my name was incorrect , I started googling his name and I found several blogs and forums in which some artists complained enormously. Here is one of them :
The organisation, N Y Bienniale Art (NYBA), is promoting and event that is supposed to occur in New York City September 27 through October 25, 2009, called the NY Biennale 2009, and they are putting out a call-for-artists for a show called Free Zone Area. the director’s name is Pietro Franesi. I have been dealing with them for almost 9 months via email, because they were supposed to give me a solo show for this event in 2008. They first advertised on Craig’s list looking for artists for solo show and I responded and they told me that I was chosen, via several confirmations emails that I received. It was then canceled after I got an e-mail from his organisation saying that Pietro Franesi was hit by a cab. They informed artists that they would do the same NY Biennale art show for 2009, which was supposed to occur in many different locations throughout the city, but then six months later I received an e-mail to apply for a new show called Free Zone Area, and it said that all of the solo shows had been canceled.
More complaints following the link down below:
So , however , being hard enough I decided to go on and to see how far we can go like that. Now, there was a period of silence. No single infos from their side. Suddenly few months later I activated my FB account again and I found out that all selected artists shall send this and that as soon as possible, and the period was 3 days. I have decided to send them all infos and docs, as I already have them prepared in my folder. I sent them 3 emails on every possible address I could find, just to correct my first name. They did so. A month later when I asked one of the assistants , whose name is Sarah Bloomberg , why they are so rigid into sudden deadlines and it was in the middle of a summer , she replied : Not your busyness ! Ok, I decided to be a submissive bitch and to go further but keeping them on my chain. At one point , they added our pictures on their website , but to confirm that I have received more then 3 times the same email asking for my pictures. I already sent them , but they kindly encouraged me to send them once more claiming that their hard disc got infected my some malicious viruses and that they lost all our data during the New Year Eve. In the meantime, they withdrawn 6-7 artists from the list. All was messy and still is. Such a great number of artists were published with incorrect names or surnames. Lot of mistakes, lot of absurd details. Through all the time, I have never succeeded to find out their physical address in NYC and the telephone numbers. On their website there was no information when exactly the Biennial is going to take place , what are the venues for exhibiting and so on… Whenever I asked , would you send me a letter of invitation, or no-one responded or I would receive some wishy-washy answers..
Now to cut the long description and to come back to the final point. In due time, some new names within the organisation had come to the light. Day by day, some new emails, info, invitations, curatorial openings that I have nothing to do with. At one point , I have got an email being asked if I would like to take a participation in the exhibition during the Olympic Games in London. Once I responded, they informed me about sudden cancelation due to ‘’high expenses that the gallery in London shall charge them’’.
Yesterday , April 9, I have got an email from NYBA containing Exel file with dates, names of artists and the chosen location for a Biennial. The selection of venues were:
Times Square, Nike Square, 5th Av , Central Park, NYC Subway, Harlem…
I mean, what the fuck is this. Public venues ? Streets, Parks, Fields, Rivers, Gaps, City walls … ? Ok, I decided to forget about all these details and to ask finally for the essence: A letter of Invitation , to be able to apply for the bloody Visa.
This is an answer I have received this morning, before I started furiously to write this already long report:
Dear Branko we know very well your incredible situation but we cannot invite you as you ask we are not american citizen and in the past we have had many problems with Usa Government we can host you in ny but to arrive in ny is your problem we can put online your performance in streaming the same day of the programme and you will make the performance where you live let me know David S …
I believe this is the drop that fulfilled the glass , so I WONT be going further , but rather more, intending to stop this and other nonsenses of a mutual orgasm with only one beneficiary.
Branko Miliskovic 10/04/2012