Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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BALFE: Hi :)
RAMOS: Hi Jenna, thank you for joining me.
BALFE: Hey! No problem
RAMOS: how was you Basel?
BALFE: It was stressful.
RAMOS: how come?
BALFE: There is this sort of overwhelming collective energy that moves through the city when Basel comes.
I mean, I notice it especially because I am in the art community. Not everyone probably feels it.
RAMOS: can you describe this feeling a bit further?
BALFE: I had a sense of wanting to do a lot of fun things, but also felt like there was a barrier in front of me in certain situations.
The elite aspect of this whole thing kind of disgusts me at this time of being alive.
The dialogue of art is exclusive, for the most part. In a lot of these fairs, I feel like the way I experience or understand art is not acceptable. Like, unless I have access in this really specific conversation being held by people whom have the privilege to engage in the conversation, then I don't really understand the art. It is a market economy that has transformed sensitive people into tastemakers who play a mean social game.
I feel like I have been dazzled by the whole art world myself for years, but now I want to rip off the mask. It makes me feel torn up inside, because most of my friends are artists who operate in this world. I also realize that this is the way the world works...
But there has to be some opposition right?
RAMOS: By elite aspect, are you referring to the collectors the come in during this time?
BALFE: The collectors, the VIP game, the high fashion, the luxurious catered events, etc.
I know I sound a bit angsty
But I feel that things are out of balance.
RAMOS: I understand and wonder if this wave of high-end individuals is necessary to keep the industry afloat
BALFE: That's the sad part.
I think that's what the whole thing has been built upon. I mean... artists have had patrons forever.
Money is not evil
It is a representation of exchange
So, the problem lies in how we look at exchanging with one another.
I myself want opportunities to express, I would be thrilled to be given some money to create a dance piece and installation.
But how do I do it?
What I notice that happens is, that so many artist's get small amounts of money to try and make big things happen. This ends up putting a big strain on the community in the end. Artists end up taking scraps to use their talent's which have taken years and years of practice and technique to obtain.
It's this sloppy trickle down economics thing.
RAMOS: yes - i want to address the question you asked about getting money to create pieces.
because as a rule of economics, these pieces have to generate value to the buyer, this can be economic value or some other kind of value
and this other kind of value can be interesting but it is unclear
That's where I was going with the whole how do I do it? Like how would I go about taking on the responsibility of presenting something to the public.
I do feel that being an artist is a responsibility
I want to express, but I also want to give back.
In my own work I want to think of ways that my own art can contribute something lasting to the community.
RAMOS: right - you have to - the expression and the giving back can be one in the same
if at the moment this is not happening, then the buyer relies on economic value - which is, i think, the core of the problem
This is where the expression and the soul of art becomes a shell. People who had dreams of becoming a successful artist are forced to play a game of out-clevering one another.
That's how the "high art" world feels to me.
I am resentful, I admit it.
Because I want to have an opportunity to express as well...
RAMOS: right - competition should not have a place in the art world
innovation should be enough to set each other apart as artist
BALFE: That's a good point.
Innovation requires collaboration.
RAMOS: if you are innovating as an artist then you should have no concerns about competition
and in your case - i think you are
BALFE: One has to keep their ego in check to have an innovative conversation vs. a competitive one.
RAMOS: also in your case - i think you have a lot to offer - value to those who engage
however, the medium is not something that can be traded later on so it becomes tricky or it means your audience is not the conventional art investor
BALFE: That is very true. I once did a show, at the BFI- where I made art.
But after the show I recycled it all. There were a few people interested in pieces, but I refused to sell anything haha.
BALFE: But at the same time I recognize that artists want to eat!
But dammit, if our most sensitive little humans are not being true, the people that are supposed to provide visible reflections... then how do we see? Maybe this is the reflexion though...Oh man, that's dark.
It's a tense world right now and it feels strange to party in it.
RAMOS: ok so tell me what you think you would have to do in order to fully participate in Art Basel and as an artist benefit from the wealth that is flowing through it every year
BALFE: Hmmmm. I would propose having a booth in art basel that represented community artists from all over Miami. The proceeds of any sales would go toward making a cultural center that provided people with a free space to dance and draw in. Limited art supplies would be available for free.
Anyone could come. I would just create a daily limit of visitors.
I have another idea tho
I would take the same exhibitors from that booth and have them go around the fair and write about what the art means to them. I would then propose that there be a dialogue between artists, collector's and community artists to create a dialogue that could include all involved.
I also would like to offer therapy at a fair. Dance Therapy of course.
Maybe some art therapy too.
I'm just brainstorming here.
Now I just gotta find some funding
This talk has been therapeutic for me haha
RAMOS: i love it
i definitely think there should be a booth in every art fair that comes to Miami for Miami locals and proceeds would be split between artist and the source of funding that rents the space and selects the artist
Let's make it happen!
RAMOS: of course that would create a whole new problem of politics within the art world but i would welcome that
BALFE: me too
RAMOS: why not... why not
last question... what was you most favorite artist in any of the fairs you saw this year?
I saw a music performance and art installation by Jorge Elbrecht and Max Hooper Schneider that I really enjoyed. The show was put on by the BFI at The Colony Theater. There was a metal band, Coral Cross that played to a half human half dolphin sculpture that had tilapia screwed into it that was being lowered and raised by two women into a jacuzzi filled with crabs. The room was also being flooded by fog machines. My friend Pebble and I was loosing our shit dancing to it. To the point by where we both were out of breath. There was something so perfectly cathartic about the moment. All the people were still and staring at this insane sculpture and then me and my pal just dancing like maniacs. The energy of these times makes it difficult to really satisfactorily express, the heavy metal was therapeutic for me.
The other show I loved was at the Satellite Art Fair, which is the best fair in my opinion. There was a room called The Soothing Centers arts-focused holistic cleansing center. Inside there were different art themed therapeutic experiences. I laid on a lounge chair and the gallerist put a mask on my face that played back my breathing to me into headphones and the mask was scented with fresh grass smell.
Another gallery at the Satellite fair was, Le Provaceteur was being hosted by Dangerous Rose. The room was very LGBTQ friendly and filled with good vibes. I got a pole dancing lesson from Dangerous Rose a beautifully talented dancer trained at Juliard. I felt so calm and peaceful- just being in the space felt like a performance of being open and free in the moment.