A St. Louis online arts journal that reaches local, national and international readers, is about to celebrate an important milestone. James McAnally and Sarrita Hunn founded the Temporary Art Review in 2011. To celebrate its fifth anniversary, they’re publishing a limited edition book of writing from the site. It may sound like esoteric art stuff, but as McAnally told Willis Ryder Arnold, there’s a lot at stake.
Here’s an excerpt of their conversation:
James McAnally: If you look at the art world as a big picture you realize that most of the activity that’s taking place is taking place away from institutions, away from museums. The idea is to end up perhaps in museum collections, but they always start in a more immediate level whether that’s from a small storefront gallery or an apartment gallery or just artists getting together and supporting one another’s work. That’s really where the art world always starts. And it represents a huge percentage of the activity that we talk about when we talk about contemporary art.
WA: Why put out a publication right now, and what do you want people to take from that as opposed to what they get from the site?
JM: We really feel like it’s a document of the past five years in the art world, especially what happened post Occupy, what happened post Black Lives Matter, who was engaging these issues, what were the spaces that were influential? What were the people’s voices that shaped the time and the way artists were thinking in the present. So we think that’s important as an immediate reflection but also what will this book mean 30 years from now and being able to really look back on this as a real, primary document of the time.
WA: So now that you’ve done that reflection what keeps you still believing that this kind of critical discourse is important to society?
JM: I think that the ideas that artists work on are central to the issues that are important to society in general, really reflecting on “Is it working? Is it not working? Is art having the influence in a political sense that it claims it is?” Being now, post-election, that’s becoming really prominent again, and I think that you have to bring critical language to really assess something’s success and its legacy ultimately to be asking “Is art doing what it claims to be doing?” The challenge kind of remains the same – are we modeling a world that we want to see?
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