135820 exhibitions worldwide by peterfuchs
September 11, 2008, 3:20 pm
Filed under: Art as Gift Research blog | Tags:

The second image on the Google search of word: art. From a Hungarian IP address

Which means 371of them on each an every day.
“Artfacts.Net™ is an international online gallery and museum Guide for modern, contemporary and emerging art. ” – monitors and displays all of these events, including the artist exhibited (…)” – as stated in their introduction, right next to this fascinating number.
Periferic 8 is also included, under the biennial entries, from which they feature 371 . One would wonder how could anyone keep track of so many events, artists, facts? But let’s take a look on what is included in this magnificent database. has a special ranking system: as some kind of contemporary art Who-is-Who, it gathers the name of each and every artist who exhibits in one of the many monitored spaces what they cover, and based on some algorithm, allocates a rank in this system of all artist all around the world. The more higher ranking artist you exhibit with, the higher rank you can get – therefore a ladder of artist is created, but for whom, why and how?

According to an interview on with the director Marek Claassen, in which he describes the basic working method of ranking in this system, the basic elements of the algorithm are quite clear, and similar to the working methods of the search giant: Google. Artists got ranked by where they exhibit, who they exhibit with, and in which gallery they are represented.
On the first glance, this all seems to be all right, but in fact, it is turning to be very problematic.

It might be obvious, that this site operates only with a handful of employees. Even if we browse trough the little bit confusing page of staff members, it might be clear, that they do not have a human and computing capacity of a large market watch company, which holds branch offices in each and every market area. We might assume, that they do not have enough resource to attend to each of these events. Then, how would they decided the given presentation was adequate? I mean not all exhibition, which features am Andy Warhol (which dramatically increases the ranking of a given artist due to the high ranking if Warhol) is on the equal level either artistically, either by the standards of the market…

Although mimics the searching method of the Google, the parallel with the search engine halts on a very early level. Google is, in fact a highly complicated system, in which most of the resources are defending the search results form different form of abuse –  if you don’t know what I mean, try to Google “money”, “gift” or “sex”, you will definitely not find either of these by this method.

And then comes the problem of exclusion. Why would we limit the data for the exhibitions, exhibition spaces in 2008? Why to exclude any artist who does not exhibit in a 18-19. century system of display(s)? The answer concludes most of the questions I had before: is only interested in an art which produces the commodities the very same way as bourgeois art did in the last centuries. Even multimedia and video works, documentary movies are treated in the same way as paintings and sculptures – but only if they are exhibited on an exhibition space wall, not when projected on the wall of a cinema for example, or played on a television show. Not even mention the digital media. seems to forget, that artist are not only known from exhibitions, but form albums and other publications.  Which concludes the “whom” question. For art dealers and art market enthusiast who live in an age where “contemporary and emerging” art was based on mere physical reproduction.

As artfacts is a international gallery guide, it remains true for its name – listing only a financial aspect of art industry, and not becoming a comprehensive directory of artist and art.It might be the same with the media of movies if the IMDB would be about the price of the films reels, which have to be screened in the theater, not the actual movies.

Let’s give an example on how does not fulfilling its function: If we have a highly influential artist, who did only a single work in his/her lifetime, which influenced our visual culture and artistic thinking pretty much. The work is not exhibited in a fancy gallery, just sits on a public space somewhere, forgotten by the market, but praised by the critics. Then, an art historian, or the artist him/herself uncovers a second, none the less influential work, which immediately becomes a shooting star in the professional press, but since it is also site specific, it can’t be relocated and not exhibited in a gallery likewise the previous work, therefore stays also out scope of
Unless, with a manual intervention to the system, does not recognizes the work, or the artist – and with such an intervention, the creators take such a burden on their shoulders, that even serious collaborative Web 2.0 encyclopedias can only solve with hundred thousands of contributors.

Therefore, can not act as a database contemporary art Who-is-Who, if excluding most of the contemporary, not market based displays of artistic actions, and entire genres which sometimes intentionally keep distance to these organizations.


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