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Old 12-13-2013, 03:50 PM
Andrew Werby Andrew Werby is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 647
Re: WARNING FOR SCULPTORS

This all seems to have happened quite a while ago - the competition was in 2005, and the sculptures chosen were all installed by 2007. If this was really a biennial event, there should have been other ones in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. If they're just getting around to announcing another show (for 2015?), then that would make it a decennial But there's nothing on the site referenced that talks about any of that.

Why did you wait 8 years to post this "Warning"? I agree that the sponsors seem to have changed their minds about choosing art from the "biennial" for purchase, but I'm sure if you read the fine print they gave themselves the right to do so (these arrangements are entirely one-sided). The $25 "processing fee" is another matter. While fees like that are unfortunately common among open invitations for art exhibitions, they are less so in solicitations for public art commissions. This is because while the sponsors of fee-based exhibits want money from a maximum number of participants, regardless of the quality of their work, if they actually are spending money to purchase a piece of art, they don't want to be limited to artists who are so desperate for recognition as to be willing to pay cash up front for the chance of it. This seems like a departure from the norm which they subsequently regretted (although not to the extent of refunding the money).

This points up the problematical nature of these fees. For an artist, it's rarely a good idea to "pay to play". Opportunities that are based on the idea that many artists will sponsor an exhibition for a few of themselves, chosen by other people according to their own undisclosed agendas, are fated by their own inner dynamics to produce shows of scant artistic merit. There are too many incentives for abuse, neglect, or outright fraud by those unscrupulous enough to see them as a good way of raising money. There are no controls on disguised lotteries like this which would ensure openness and fairness in the process, or even that a promised show will actually take place.

It's entirely common for terms and conditions on public art projects to change between the issuing of a prospectus and the awarding of a contract. Often a big competition will be held, with many artists working late nights to put together submissions, only to end up with the jury rejecting every entry and choosing something else, or deciding not to install anything at all. If all you lost was your $25 fee, and your work was exhibited, then you probably did better than many others.

Andrew Werby
Juxtamorph.com
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