Thursday, July 1, 2010
Matt Olson interviews culturehall for ROLU
Minneapolis-based curator Matt Olson recently interviewed culturehall for his art and design blog ROLU - a favorite in our Resources. Matt curated Feature Issue 46 for culturehall, bringing four new artists to the site. Thank you, Matt, for a ton of support and enthusiasm. To see a better-looking version of the interview, please find us on his sexy blog: ROLU INTERVIEWS CULTUREHALL
There's such a huge number of art related blogs and sites now. It's almost mind- boggling. You call Culturehall “a curated online resource for contemporary art.” Could you talk a bit about what your initial thinking was for starting it? And where within the continuum of sites do you fit?
My interest in the Internet started during the late nineties while finishing up grad school. It was a funny time where radically new technology was worming its way through society and there was nothing close to a consensus on how it would change the way we live. I was also intrigued by the media and marketing hype surrounding the promise of the Internet, especially since most of this future was unavailable due to slow connections, slow computers, bad search engines, and websites with poor information architecture.
The idea for Culturehall started in 2000 after completing my studies. I was looking for ways to promote my work and the Internet seemed like an interesting option but I couldn’t find the equivalent of a slide registry. The few sites I did find had no curatorial outlook and were for the most part random jumbles. I thought this was kind of odd since the Internet could be a very convenient way to show art. If someone were interested in seeing your work, you would just send a link instead of dealing with slides or other physical portfolio material.
Part of what distinguishes Culturehall from other portfolio sites is that participating artists are chosen selectively. David and I work together along with guest curators to invite artists whose work reflects a strong vision and serious commitment to the arts. While artists included on the site are at various stages in their careers, we intend to keep the bar high in terms of the quality of the work.
Culturehall features work by four artists every two weeks on our homepage. These features are accompanied by curatorial statements written by one of us or by our guest curators. David and I are interested in reaching out to dynamic figures in the arts – artists, writers, curators – to get a range of perspectives. Some of our recent curators include Erin Sickler, Ruben Natal-San Miguel, Shane Lavalette, and Zeina Assaf, among others. We were thrilled to invite you, Matt, to curate a feature issue, and we love the new artists whose work you brought to the site.
Culturehall has also created a resource for descriptive links to other blogs and websites. David and I have researched the Web for writing about the arts that we felt was relevant to our community of artists and to our audience. We’re invested in collaborating with an international network that shares some of our interests in contemporary art.
What are your long-term goals for Culturehall?
I would like to see Culturehall become a place where artists can connect with their audience and build a wider following for their work.
What’s the reaction been so far?
Culturehall has received enthusiastic responses from artists we’ve invited to the site. Other figures in the arts we contacted about adding their blogs and websites to our resources have also given us great feedback. The writing our guest curators have contributed to the site has generated interest from an increasingly wider audience.
We’ve received very positive feedback from both our members and the public. It’s rewarding to see the opportunities that come about for our members as a direct result of their presenting work on Culturehall.
What do you think about the massive amount of art being consumed online rather than in person?
Ideally, viewing and reading about art online will stimulate interest in experiencing art in person rather than replace it. Culturehall exists as a place to discover and research artists’ work through their portfolios, as well as a list of their current exhibitions and events.
I see the online environment as a way for creating an increased interest in art for a broader public. The convenience of being able to easily sample a broad selection of work is a powerful aspect of the online experience. Viewing art online informs the public and invites participation.
What is the best “art moment” you’ve had recently … both in “the real world” and online?
The best art moments in “the real world” for me consist of making my own work, which recently has involved making trips on the bus to Paterson, New Jersey to develop a new series of portraits. Other great art moments stem from communicating with artist friends and peers day-to-day, both in person and online, and being involved in a vibrant arts community in New York City. Selecting work and writing feature issues for Culturehall are also exceptionally rewarding experiences.
Real World - wandering through the Whitney Biennial on a lazy Sunday afternoon at the same time as Yoko Ono. She was in the full Yoko. Her presence felt like an undocumented work in the show.
Online - http://www.fondazionemaxxi.it - After many years of anticipation the MAXXI in Rome has finally become a reality (and their website too.) I’ve visited Rome twice in the past few years and was disappointed each time to find that this long awaited Zaha Hadid project was only more chronically behind schedule.
Do you think art is good for you?
Personally, yes, art is good … for me … but I’m very hesitant to impose that assumption on an audience broader than myself. However, I do think the critical thought and creativity that go into making and viewing art would be beneficial to many people.
What could possibly be better than something that expands imaginations, heightens sensitivity, challenges conventions, creates community, and encourages critical dialogue? Fortunately, the definition of what is good for you, like art itself, is vastly subjective and open to interpretation.