Tuesday, October 2, 2007

With or without you

Para/Site's AGM was held last weekend and I officially retired from its board. Feeling good. At the same time, I finished a short contribution to a book on artist-run space published by YYZ Books in Toronto. Here I also attach my text:

Looking at the development of an artist-run space, after almost 12 years of involvement, I will sum up with a couple of words: change and let go.

Nowadays, the difference between institutions and organizations is getting smaller and smaller. Once the romantic structure of artists’ organization seems gone. What left behind is in name of professionalization. Artists need to be better organized, like it or not!

The most interesting part of an artist-run organization for me is its existence at different stages, transforming itself until the day when it is no longer regarded as artist-run. The process lasts variedly, from a couple of years to 10 or 15. Its survival deals with its changing environment. It can be so fluid that it may allow immediate failure or success. The opportunity cost can be very low in name of passions. After all, you see yourself growing along with the organization. This momentum may diminish when one cannot keep up with the other.

The infamous example is its core members (in most cases also the founders) are too busy with their own careers to progress the organization. The worst situation is the slow death of the organization which still absorbs certain amount of energy and resources because of its early glory, of those who sympathize.

To fold up or change the organization always stirs up controversy, as there are always people with different ideas. You just need to allow different possibilities and it is always interesting to explore the new. In this moment, you definitely sense the opportunity cost is getting higher. But then it’s time to give the organization a new life, with or without you.

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