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Thread: gallery keeps destroying my work

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    gallery keeps destroying my work

    Hey im new to this forum and just seeking some advice / venting my stress. So a gallery was doing an open call for artists and i submitted some work which they accepted. They pay an artists fee (meaning they are paying me roughly 200 just to display my work) this seemed really cool.

    The work is a sculptural piece using thread, its extremely delicate as the thread is tied to the ceiling and attached to frames on the floor. Many of the galleries employees are constantly touching the thread, or otherwise acting quite recklessly around it. Due to its angle and material the artwork actually appears invisible from certain angles, something i was quite proud of.

    So over the course of a week i have heard employees constantly say they have walked into the work by accident, i just feel like saying 'could you be more careful?' but i forgive and attempt to forget. I finished installing the work yesterday, and because i was so worried about it i decided to ask the curator if it would be possible for him to put hazard tape around the less visible areas, just until we figure something out. So today he texts me and tells me one of his employees stepped on the artwork and destroyed part of it.

    Its been a reoccurring theme throughout the whole installation process, and its really become too much for me. It seems to me my only option is to say if it gets destroyed one more time i am pulling out of the show - but then i am the one who loses because i dont get to promote my work, i dont care about the money. Isn't there anything i can say or do to gain some sort of compensation because the gallery destroyed my artwork ? The opening is very soon and i'm even more worried about the public if the curator cant help but damage it !

    Many Thanks for any and all responses !

  2. #2
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    Jul 2006
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    22,517
    Quote Originally Posted by emanfirstlast View Post
    Hey im new to this forum and just seeking some advice / venting my stress. So a gallery was doing an open call for artists and i submitted some work which they accepted. They pay an artists fee (meaning they are paying me roughly 200 just to display my work) this seemed really cool.

    The work is a sculptural piece using thread, its extremely delicate as the thread is tied to the ceiling and attached to frames on the floor. Many of the galleries employees are constantly touching the thread, or otherwise acting quite recklessly around it. Due to its angle and material the artwork actually appears invisible from certain angles, something i was quite proud of.

    So over the course of a week i have heard employees constantly say they have walked into the work by accident, i just feel like saying 'could you be more careful?' but i forgive and attempt to forget. I finished installing the work yesterday, and because i was so worried about it i decided to ask the curator if it would be possible for him to put hazard tape around the less visible areas, just until we figure something out. So today he texts me and tells me one of his employees stepped on the artwork and destroyed part of it.

    Its been a reoccurring theme throughout the whole installation process, and its really become too much for me. It seems to me my only option is to say if it gets destroyed one more time i am pulling out of the show - but then i am the one who loses because i dont get to promote my work, i dont care about the money. Isn't there anything i can say or do to gain some sort of compensation because the gallery destroyed my artwork ? The opening is very soon and i'm even more worried about the public if the curator cant help but damage it !

    Many Thanks for any and all responses !
    That really sucks! I'm so sorry. I periodically hear nightmare stories from artists about galleries. Says a lot about the kind of gallery you are dealing with and I wouldn't. But that's me. Maybe next time you could plan for this being what places do, and build into the artwork a sort of protective plexiglass box or a protective railing and just make it really sturdy -- like the body protects the heart and lungs with the rib cage. . . only you would have your stuff visible.

    Other than that, you may want to realize that doing something that is so delicate is asking for the world to damage it, and adopt a sort of Zen attitude like they have with their sand paintings, and post a sign at the exhibit describing as much -- that it is done delicately with the advanced knowledge of the world and time interacting with it -- rather like a performance concept art piece. I wouldn't think there is anything you could do legally, and whether there was or not if word got out that you brought legal action against a gallery you could consider your career over.

    I've also heard of galleries "loosing" work, which is suspicious as hell. But there it is. It happens. Most galleries see your art as a commodity like buying a dress or a piece of furniture that's massed produced. And they have no concept of the preciousness you yourself apply to it, especially if they are not trying to sell it. They doubtless hire the lowest of the low for doing the grunt work with the lifting and moving. These are guys who go in for a time, get their wage regardless of the quality of job they do and leave, and go get drunk probably. Many of them can be found outside Home Depot or some place where you can pick up day laborers. So whether that is the case or not, you have to play it that way. It's on you in the final analysis and you have to be creative in areas that are not about directly creating art. It's life, I'm afraid. So don't give up, just be smart and plan for these kinds of eventualities. There's not much else you can do. Good luck! And sorry about your work. I feel your pain. Believe me.
    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  3. #3
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    Aug 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Akey View Post
    That really sucks! I'm so sorry. I periodically hear nightmare stories from artists about galleries. Says a lot about the kind of gallery you are dealing with and I wouldn't. But that's me. Maybe next time you could plan for this being what places do, and build into the artwork a sort of protective plexiglass box or a protective railing and just make it really sturdy -- like the body protects the heart and lungs with the rib cage. . . only you would have your stuff visible.

    Other than that, you may want to realize that doing something that is so delicate is asking for the world to damage it, and adopt a sort of Zen attitude like they have with their sand paintings, and post a sign at the exhibit describing as much -- that it is done delicately with the advanced knowledge of the world and time interacting with it -- rather like a performance concept art piece. I wouldn't think there is anything you could do legally, and whether there was or not if word got out that you brought legal action against a gallery you could consider your career over.

    I've also heard of galleries "loosing" work, which is suspicious as hell. But there it is. It happens. Most galleries see your art as a commodity like buying a dress or a piece of furniture that's massed produced. And they have no concept of the preciousness you yourself apply to it, especially if they are not trying to sell it. They doubtless hire the lowest of the low for doing the grunt work with the lifting and moving. These are guys who go in for a time, get their wage regardless of the quality of job they do and leave, and go get drunk probably. Many of them can be found outside Home Depot or some place where you can pick up day laborers. So whether that is the case or not, you have to play it that way. It's on you in the final analysis and you have to be creative in areas that are not about directly creating art. It's life, I'm afraid. So don't give up, just be smart and plan for these kinds of eventualities. There's not much else you can do. Good luck! And sorry about your work. I feel your pain. Believe me.
    I definitely get what you are saying, this is my first art exhibition and first experience with a gallery, so i suppose i wasn't really prepared for how unpredictable an audience can be around art. The opening is literally two days away, im going to the gallery tomorrow to try and discuss how exactly to avoid any further accidental damage. Im also thinking perspex but with that amount of time, it would be hard to do. At the moment the curator is trying to nudge me towards using lights, but i just think its too subtle ? If worst comes to worst, hazard tape may be what is needed. The main thing about damage is not that the work was designed to be permanent, i will eventually have to take it down, its just the effect it has on how it looks, and how i look as a professional. I think im gonna have to deal with the idea that its gonna get wrecked, and i know its gonna hurt so much, and i dont know how i could ever recover from that professionally, i suppose i can only hope to get a few photos for the portfolio...

    I really sort of vented my anger at him today, i tried to tell him that he's destroying a piece of artwork that i poured every part of my self into, and i consider my art even more important than me ! But he replied that i was being a prima donna, its so hard to convey your genuine passion for your work without appearing pretentious or 'holier than holy'.

  4. #4
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    May 2013
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    Are the gallery insured for damages? They might have systems in place to deal with damaged art whilst on the premises.

    If not, maybe you can come up with some sort of signed agreement which covers the value of the piece and a clause which states any damages must be paid in part or full by the gallery. It might encourage them to be more careful, but then again they may just decline to show it.

    You piece sounds rather interesting by the way. I'd love to see a picture of it. You should also change the name of it to 'Clumsy Curator'

  5. #5
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    Salvaging the situation: Take lots of pictures of the whole exhibit. Show your work in context with the title of the event close at hand so people know you've shown in that venue. Put together a page or brochure, with clear pics of the good angles of your work so that it appears like a success. Show the myriad people milling about as if they have come there to see your work in addition to all the other stuff. Show yourself as a participant. After the show is over, the story you tell and what you show of it will be what people will look at this as. You can control how people who weren't there will experience you.

    And if anyone asks, you can mention casually about people damaging it and depending on how the people you're telling respond, you can let them express disappointment on your behalf and/or let it drop and change the subject. You keep your own expression contained somewhat. Otherwise if you're spewing pain, it could easily turn against you now or later. Negativity takes on a life of its own. So be careful about creating these little demons. And if that spin doesn't work, then move on as fast as you can with new works. Keep moving forward at all costs.

    You can spin this into a win, but to do so you have to have clarity. Most people will NOT attend this show. And the ones that do will not remember details of your work nearly as much as you do. You're part of the milieu. If you show them your work later in the best light, you can salvage this. They will mostly experience it with a special eye when you present it to them when they will be looking at you and the art in one package. This is critical for you to learn this.

    Do NOT show the damage in your photos, and DO NOT speak of the damage, tempting as it will be to tell your horror story. You could continue the trail of damage and it would be risky in promoting yourself to express that all is anything but rosy. You are trying to entice people to commission you and also perhaps to show your work in their own gallery or lobby etc. So consider the thinking of potential clients -- if they were to hire you and something happened, you don't want them to think you would cave and leave them holding the bag.

    All you can do at this point is roll with it and never act like you are a potential weight for others. Be really careful about what you do with this situation. You will be doing a million works of art in your lifetime and keep focused on your creating. Save this story for late night around the campfire and everybody's getting hammered telling their horror stories of being artists. That's the appropriate place to vent.

    When and if you do speak of it, speak of it in a way in which you can speak of how you overcame it and learned from it. Shit happens to everybody. Those who can master the situations will last. Those that can't. . . well, you know. . .

    This could knock lesser people out of the saddle. Be careful what you let this grow into inside yourself and thus outside yourself. Right now your art is super precious to you. You are in the minority at the early stages of your creative life. You have to rise above it and get strong. Because of this, you yourself are the sculpture in a way -- it's you with all the delicateness, and when you appear in the world, you are showing your level of creation. You be tougher and show you are made of more than mere thread. And populate your promotional material with many new works. Keep working!!!!! You can do this.
    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    302
    Well said Mr D Akey. Very well said....

    emanfirstlast...you need to pick your battles wisely. It is very likely that in a year or two that gallery won't even be in business. Don't let the same be said of you.

  7. #7
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    Aug 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Akey View Post
    Salvaging the situation: Take lots of pictures of the whole exhibit. Show your work in context with the title of the event close at hand so people know you've shown in that venue. Put together a page or brochure, with clear pics of the good angles of your work so that it appears like a success. Show the myriad people milling about as if they have come there to see your work in addition to all the other stuff. Show yourself as a participant. After the show is over, the story you tell and what you show of it will be what people will look at this as. You can control how people who weren't there will experience you.

    And if anyone asks, you can mention casually about people damaging it and depending on how the people you're telling respond, you can let them express disappointment on your behalf and/or let it drop and change the subject. You keep your own expression contained somewhat. Otherwise if you're spewing pain, it could easily turn against you now or later. Negativity takes on a life of its own. So be careful about creating these little demons. And if that spin doesn't work, then move on as fast as you can with new works. Keep moving forward at all costs.

    You can spin this into a win, but to do so you have to have clarity. Most people will NOT attend this show. And the ones that do will not remember details of your work nearly as much as you do. You're part of the milieu. If you show them your work later in the best light, you can salvage this. They will mostly experience it with a special eye when you present it to them when they will be looking at you and the art in one package. This is critical for you to learn this.

    Do NOT show the damage in your photos, and DO NOT speak of the damage, tempting as it will be to tell your horror story. You could continue the trail of damage and it would be risky in promoting yourself to express that all is anything but rosy. You are trying to entice people to commission you and also perhaps to show your work in their own gallery or lobby etc. So consider the thinking of potential clients -- if they were to hire you and something happened, you don't want them to think you would cave and leave them holding the bag.

    All you can do at this point is roll with it and never act like you are a potential weight for others. Be really careful about what you do with this situation. You will be doing a million works of art in your lifetime and keep focused on your creating. Save this story for late night around the campfire and everybody's getting hammered telling their horror stories of being artists. That's the appropriate place to vent.

    When and if you do speak of it, speak of it in a way in which you can speak of how you overcame it and learned from it. Shit happens to everybody. Those who can master the situations will last. Those that can't. . . well, you know. . .

    This could knock lesser people out of the saddle. Be careful what you let this grow into inside yourself and thus outside yourself. Right now your art is super precious to you. You are in the minority at the early stages of your creative life. You have to rise above it and get strong. Because of this, you yourself are the sculpture in a way -- it's you with all the delicateness, and when you appear in the world, you are showing your level of creation. You be tougher and show you are made of more than mere thread. And populate your promotional material with many new works. Keep working!!!!! You can do this.


    Yeah have been thinking and feeling the things you have described for a long time, its good to know my mindset is on the right track, maybe that was what really concerned me, that i was thinking 'oh this will make me stronger, more resilient and an overall better artist' but at the same time i was wondering if really i was just creating a proverbial cushion for my emotions, i mean its always good to look to the future, but im still left stuck in the now !

    But as you say the only real options are to give up or deal with it, i suppose what really got me was the idea that dealing with it was like accepting i couldnt change anything about the situation, which almost felt like giving up. But it really helps to have another artist to give you some advice, especially when they are not linked to you professionally, so thanks !

    Will update and tell everyone how it goes.

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