20×200 and Media Criticism via eCommerce

I’ve long been interested in the overlaps between media as well as artwork that explores its the limits of its form. And so I’m accustomed to discovering challenging ideas either from the work itself (Tauba Auerbach’s paintings, Tom McCarthy’s novel Remainder, Olivier Assayas’ film Demonlover) or via commentary.

I’ll go out on a limb and add an eCommerce site to this list. Specifically, gallerist Jen Bekman’s 20×200 project.

"Vanity Fair MAY08:pg269 (and, incredibly, looking not a day older)" by Lauren DiCioccio

The ostensible purpose of the site is to sell artwork. But there is a sharp curatorial eye behind the work for sale. Certain trends emerge, and Bekman’s taste becomes increasingly articulated.

It doesn’t matter if this is done indirectly. What are the differences between blogs with Google ads, style sites with product collaborations, and 20×200 with its artist statements?

Lauren DiCioccio says about her work, “I make sculptures and paintings about my anticipatory nostalgia for obsolescing paper media objects.” How different is this from the posts on other, purely “editorial” sites?

The artwork below questions data and text representation in different ways, and, taking a step back, we get a sense of Bekman’s investigation. Perhaps I’m guilty of reading way too much into this, but I don’t see it as all that different from Leo Castelli’s expansion of the art world with his early support of Richard Serra and his ilk.

"Ideal Bookshelf 101: Robert Verdi" by Jane Mount

"Untitled (300 x 404)" by Greg Allen

"Nonsensical Infographic No. 4" by Chad Hagen

"Walter Benjamin: A Literary Organism Analysis" by Stefanie Posavec

"The Travelogue" by Austin Kleon

Bekman talks a lot about “democratizing art,” and it’s true that in the past I would have to gallery-hop in Chelsea to find this kind of work. I’m not bothered that her democratization is really market capitalization: here’s some art, now buy! buy! buy!

I’m not bothered by the financial front-end here any more than when Vampire Weekend makes music for Converse or Wes Anderson shoots an AmEx commercial. Strong ideas are mutable and transmit across different vessels and containers. (These days, they must.)

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Filed under art, convergences, designporn

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