Those who enjoyed this year’s Best of the Web, may also like our picks for the worst. In no particular order, here is our list of 2008’s under performers!
Easily the highest profile gallery in the city with the worst website. Thankfully the music turns off the minute you leave the splash page, but by default the score plays when the page loads, so the damage has already been done! Unfortunately I have to visit the site enough that Warren Fischer’s Deitch Project’s Theme Song has left a permanent scar on my psyche. Other website low points include confusing menu options, and pop up windows.
9. Summertime Interwebs
Low traffic literally makes bloggers go crazy, which is why stories like the Montauk Monster exist. Something died and washed up on the beach a year later, and its carcass was ugly enough to warrant two weeks of web news. Admittedly, as a phenomenon that little guy holds some interest, but the fact that the lockness monster has legs again is not a good sign for the media industry. Editor’s note: The monster’s true identity was never determined, but despite evidence pointing to the contrary, I think it was a dog.
8. Picture a Day Artists.
I’ve lost track of how many de facto flip book artists Boing Boing covered over the last year, but designer Negse, and SarahL.com were featured within a month of each other on that blog this year. I suppose it’s a mildly engaging concept, but the gimmick rarely produces interesting results, particularly now that so many artists are working with the same idea.
7. Conflict of Interest Etc.
In general I think Tyler Green does a good job at MAN so this inclusion was a difficult choice, but I can’t ignore the fact that I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with the moralizing tone the site takes on conflict of interest stories, in addition to a few grating pet projects. For example, in July Green sided with Geoff Edgers at the Boston Globe on the subject of Lloyd Schwartz allowing his poems to be set to music by an institution he covers, and then having his expenses paid to see the event. “The tale of bought-and-paid-for critical sliminess is almost too shocking to be true“, wrote Green, as if the artist and critic was completely without scruples or morals. Schwartz could have avoided staying in the institution’s guest house, but overall, accepting accolades for an artistic contribution in the form of a student performance and an expense paid trip, need not be described as though it were the most vile thing on earth.
For the record, I sided with MAN when he questioned then Village Voice critic Christian Viveros-Faune about the fuzzy ethics involved in simultaneously co-directing two commercial art fairs (Volta in NYC, Next in Chicago) while writing for the Voice. The conflict of interest revealed became a huge story and consequently cost Viveros-Faune his job. Given the significant loss to the art community this represents, I remain uncertain about whether my position on that subject was the right one to take.
A hold over from 2002 or whenever that website was last launched, new media center Eyebeam’s four quadrant site remains one of the web’s greatest eyesores. I’m told they are working on relaunching the site, but these rumors have persisted for nearly three years. Please, replace that site so I can say something nice.
5. Bad Gallery Google ads
The above gallery ad copy isn’t the worst I’ve seen, but certainly I’ve spotted a lot over the last year I know dealers don’t want attached to their gallery. For example:
Beautiful & Aesthetic Art
Designs & Painting at
This doesn’t begin to effectively describe Bellwether programming. Galleries paying PR firms to place Google ads like that are paying them far too much.
Elizabeth Peyton, Michelle and Sasha Obama Listening to Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention August 2008, 2008
4. Elizabeth Peyton’s Michelle and Sasha Obama portrait. Thanks to online media, one of the worst portraits Elizabeth Peyton ever made constituted a short lived empty news story. I appreciate the gesture of course — added to her solo show at the New Museum the day after Obama was elected, the portrait was a sign of support for the president elect and the first lady — but frankly, the exhibition was far better without that work. This is purely speculative, but given that most posts on the subject were brief at best, I expect most covering the story at least felt ambivalence about the painting itself. My Peyton review here.
I’m told the non-profit is updating the artist registry this month, but artists frequently complain that their materials are not reviewed on a timely basis, and the staff themselves admitted on the phone to me this afternoon that they were way behind, though they declined to offer the date of the last review process. Notably it took the organization five months to erase a trolled entry in 2008. Not to state the obvious, but the registry isn’t much of a resource for anyone if it’s not active. Related: Read Anaba on the White Columns closed loop.
2. Institutional Visual Art Websites
I fear this may get me uninvited from speaking at the University next month, but Rutgers provides an example of one of countless university websites failing to provide the basic information a prospective student might need. For example, were I considering attending the school, I would be most interested in seeing the following:
- Recent images of work made by professors. The latest work posted on that site was made in 2002. Some of the images provided were by faculty that no longer worked at the University.
- Recent images of work made by students. Again, the latest work posted on that site was made in 2002. A lot can change over 6 years. The art is likely not an accurate reflection of what’s being made at the school now.
- Studio sizes. If there are images on the site, I found none.
Step it up Universities. Your students are out performing you.
1. Elizabeth Wurtzel on Internet Downloading. Boo hoo. Mediocre musician Pete Yorn isn’t a superstar, and Internet downloading is to blame. Rather than rehash what I wrote on Elizabeth Wurtzel’s piece outlining the end of American Imperialism in the Wall Street Journal I’m simply reposting my thoughts below. It’s hard to imagine a more deserving name on this list than Wurtzel.
“The Internet, glorious as it is, should be thought of as the plague of postmodernity.” writes Elizabeth Wurtzel in the Wall Street Journal, upset that the music and entertainment industry isn't doing very well due to all this downloading and DIY business. Musician Pete Yorn isn't the super star he should be, international markets might now prefer something local to the latest version of Rush Hour, and the only profession seemingly left untouched by the Internet is fine art, the entire field dismissible because as Wurtzel makes the argument, “they are a carry over from Europe”. Expanding on this thought, she writes,
“They are Old World. We'll never overwhelm the planet with brushes and clay and pencils the way we did with celluloid and vinyl and acetate. If our most original painter was Jackson Pollock, he was still no Picasso, and we all know it.
Our movies and music are America. And the day the music dies, the party's over.”
To put it bluntly this is the dumbest arts related argument I have seen made in the Wall Street Journal, and possibly the scariest. Wurtzel isn't just making ignorant assertions about who does what better, she's using them to make a case that European influence undercuts originality and influence. The piece is blatantly xenophobic. Also, to state the obvious, the points she's made have nothing to do with how cultural and economic worth of an object is determined or the effect the technology has on these markets. To say that Internet hasn't significantly effected the fine arts is to ignore the tremendous transparency online auction databases like artnet have given to the secondary market, (which obviously encourages buying), the benefits online bidding have had on auction houses, and the enormous growth it has facilitated within the field of limited edition fine art prints.