David Gryn blog

Posts Tagged ‘Talk’

Notes for Bytes for Sale – Talk in Helsinki

In Bytes for Sale, Daata, Daata Editions, daataeditions, David Gryn, Digital, digital art, Helsinki, Kiasma, Uncategorized on 09/11/2018 at 5:24 pm
Screenshot 2018-11-06 at 10.58.04.png

Ollie Dook, Animal Stories, Daata Editions


Bytes for Sale

A talk by

David Gryn, Daata Editions

At Kiasma, Helsinki

Organised by AV-arkki http://www.av-arkki.fi/

Daata – what is it:

Daata is a commissioning platform ostensibly for artists who work with digital mediums, primarily video and sound. It exhibits and distributes online and shows the work world wide in collaboration with art fairs, galleries and museums. We have over 70 artists online and over 400 artworks.

Daata emerged from my many years focussing on showing artists moving image in the context of the cinema and leading art fairs worldwide – and realising that more needed to be done to support artists and to galvanise a somewhat reticent market place. It is designed as ‘a’ model, hopefully one of many and its aims are to be empowering (to artists, the medium, audiences etc).


This talk can be summed up in two words:


But I was asked to speak for 40 minutes so here goes:

Is there a digital art market – in a nutshell ‘no’, but below – I will elaborate.

Community, Collaboration, Chemistries

It is a people business

I have seen many people come and go – since setting up Daata.

But the people who really care about empowerment, mutual support and collaboration survive.

Many people approach Daata to collaborate. They want to rub shoulders with the ‘cool’, with digital. They also often want Free content.

They have a unique business plan to raise millions and make billions from a dot com or major retail enterprise.

The collaborators often want us to promote their wares – but not much or nothing in return.

These are not community builders.

It is time for comprehensive unity.

This isn’t really a new thought. As I have been doing something like this for almost 20 years. Starting off with mostly analogue materials, and over time transmogrifying into digital process.

I have always dwelled on how to increase the audience/market position and the profile of digital media and this is definitely not new to me.

I have observed that the use and display of analogue or digital media at international art fairs has declined – where now you will see almost none. This is due to the fact that the the art market does not know what to do with digital media, how to sell or display digital media.

The irony is that most artists touch on digital media. Most galleries sell via digital platforms. Most museums and galleries and artists communicate via digital marketing and information.

They update their systems every so often and redesign and so on. But when you talk to Museums about collecting digital media – they are fearful, controlling, and nervous about how to protect, display, archive, sustain digital media over the next 100 years.

My simple logic is always – if I gave a Museum a Picasso or indeed a shredded Banksy – they will find a way to do all the above. Because they value it and believe in its extrinsic and intrinsic worth. 10 years ago I would not have been having the same regular conversations about VR/AR/Blockchain – but somehow the museum wants the understanding of longevity with digital mediums that absolutely no one else can know or control. 

There are those who are artists, gallerist, curators, collectors and they often purport to being really interested in collaborating – but when it gets down to it – they are mostly interested (either buy necessity or by design) in rubbing shoulders with the wealthy, the big art brands, the big sponsors, the famous artists, the big dinners etc

In working with Art Fairs over many years – I have seen a trait. They want to work with me/us to empower the medium, galleries and artists and always start off on a really great moral crusade/position. Then when it gets nearer to the actual fair – there is a lot of forgetting and not bothering that goes on. Reason: it isn’t the main feature, it doesn’t bring revenue, and audience may not connect. Art fairs missions are get galleries to pay and wealthy audiences in to buy and general public to buy tickets.

A market thrives on competition and mutual interdependence of the many. And we need to face a different joined-up approach to create audience interest and market power.

Artist relationships and support

It is a very human business and my role is to find best outcomes for the artist and those that support them too. This works best when we all collaborate best. The artists who are a delight to work with are those that you continue to work with and that works both ways. Bad reputations stick.

Control, dominance and power:

Those with hyper success and market dominance do well and survive – but that is the very extreme – the names we all know – not all artists, curators, gallerists are cut out to run multi national corporations.

Entities entering the digital space want this, the archaic market place wants this, it is a barrier to greater influence.

This is the way: so many entities want to be the market leader or power broker or in fact – there is only one solution and it is there’s. This occurs time and again with individuals saying they have the ultimate technology, the ultimate contract, the ultimate methods … it is strange that when it get to technology so many people want to have the dominant solution that we should all use.

Bizarrely the entities that say they have the ultimate contract (as an example) don’t share their contract templates, same with technologies that we should all use. In tech circles open-source is common – in art circles the sharing gene diminishes radically.

The niche collector. Sometime the video art collector is a quirk – it delineates an art form, but gives them niche power as the ‘video art collector’. Just Be an art collector, with something like a leading interest in tech mediums.

The issue with internet and digital media – is that it has its own history of market dominance, hyper valuations, ambitions to become one of the multi billion dollar elite businesses (google, facebook, amazon etc etc). However the art world does not work according to norms of business. I have watched some companies shoot for the stars and go out of business – whilst others can survive – based on their aspirations being artworld realistic.

Dedication, longevity, passion and commitment:

I believe my 30+ year duration in working in an area of limited financial reward is based on my integrity to deliver the best projects for limited resources. I have reaped recognition from years of experience and focus. This is based on my unswerving passion and commitment to make a difference in much the same way an artists has to make artworks regardless of the final sale/exhibition. My reputation is always my last project.

technology, delivery, simplicity

Making projects happen is what I have been doing. However, the value in complex set ups is hard to achieve a return. So my work uses ready made/existing materials/equipment/online/Internet/cinema and deliver usually in single screen/single file formats.

Promotion, marketing of projects:

Fence sitting doesn’t work. If you agree to work with an artist, or be in a fair, or organise anything. Give it your all. There is no value to engaging with what you are doing. There is no one else will promote your project or work as well as you. Or usually no one else promotes that which they opt to collaborate with. Which is very strange.


-More competition.

-Clusters of digital entities teaming up along lines of art fair models.

-marketing investment

-create ideal situations (whatever that means

-Pay artists. It provides trusted integrity to the people we purport to support.

-true collaborations

-create ‘a’ model not ‘the’ model. Semantics are key.

-Find your confidence

-Help nurture confidence


-Not Capital-ist

-Don’t aim to dominate – but to collaborate

-Contracts are only any value if all parties benefit from the agreement.

We revert back to the human experience. Thru this we aim to build support systems for artists, ways to enhance the audience experience and look for best outcomes for all and conversely we strive to avoid avarice and corruption, which is an inevitable consequence of aims at huge profit and market dominance.

My model is to pay artists and/or look out for best outcomes for them. To keep a company light and limit its overheads.

My discussions with all future partners is – team up by paying artists and you have a deal.

The big collectors, collections understand the eco system and treat artists and galleries with reverence

How does he see the international art world developing and the role of galleries for digital media art in the future?

Fantasy world idea:

Museums and galleries shall usurp the art fairs and auction houses in terms of perceived dominance. The market can be led by the integrity of those who’s mission is to best serve art. To have the dominance the other way around – means that art is driven by its market powers and not its true intrinsic value of the quality of the aesthetics. To think that a Banksy artwork is of great value because of how it is sold at an auction – is indicative of the current demise we are in – but this also means that we can learn from this an react positively by shifting the focus from auction house shenanigans to museum/gallery.

I have worked with art fairs and auction houses – because they have become the dominant focus and attention for art events and exhibition – the one stop shops for audience to see much at the same time. Easy, sometimes lazy, economic rationale, it hitherto works (for some – usually the big players).

The art fair does not mean that art shown is the best – it means it is the work that is most likely to sell.

This logic – means that digital art mediums have incrementally reduced their visibility at art fairs over the years – till now there is almost none. Art fair costs are higher and the cost/income ratio has reduced – therefore the risk factor of tricky art mediums to sell are too high.

Galleries have to reclaim control of the art market from the auction house and art fair or those entities have to give back the power – by admitting that they (the galleries) have the most interest in supporting the role of the artist. The gallery business model is from selecting, exhibiting, selling and distributing the best artists. The art fair interest is to invite Galleries and audiences who pay money to be there. The auction house has no integral interest in supporting the gallery system as it predominantly benefits from the secondary market.

We need the experts of art/artist organisers, bright curators, facilitators – who’s interest is chiefly the support and promotion of artists.

The future:

Galleries and museums (and art fairs and such like): to treat digital mediums in equal terms to all other mediums.

The value of the ephemeral:

The future will be the age of the ephemeral/near-invisible art object – the digital file. The music, gamer and film industries understand the value of the download, the online link/file. Their value is in the potential volume of audience. Hitherto the artworld has never had this potential audience, as the contemporary audience is niche, and its strength has often been based on the rarity of the object and the value is centred on a very small wealthy elite audience. But our work is to either achieve the audience of those other art forms or utilise elements of it and evolve solutions to earn revenue and reward artists.

I personally don’t believe in (excessive) ownership and have always deeply valued music, dance and performances. I can pay 99c for a track of music that I value equally to any multi million dollar artwork.

I end as I began. There is only one way to work and engage with artists and that is:


I have to add a proviso – that this is not always possible due to restricted budgets – but if it is an aim – then it comes across and is fairly obvious to the arts community. If you can’t pay – find the best way to enable and empower artists to benefit from you working with them.



Daata x citizenM breakfast talk with Jon Sharples – Oct 30

In Art, Artist, citizenM, Daata, Daata Editions, David Gryn, Jon Sharples, Tower of London, Uncategorized on 15/10/2017 at 9:43 pm

citizenM talk images

Join us on Monday October 30th at 8.30am at citizenM Tower of London for a breakfast discussion with intellectual property lawyer and Chair of the Simmons & Simmons Art Network Jon Sharples. Jon will talk about corporate collecting and his interest in art, the law and digital mediums, joined by Art Basel in Miami Beach Film & Sound curator David Gryn and Director of Daata Editions. Including an audience Q&A.

Book to join us at Eventbrite

The Artist as Composer – in Conversations and Salon series: Art Basel in Miami Beach 2016

In Art, Art Basel, Art Basel in Miami Beach, Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Salon, Artists Talk, Daata, daataeditions, Miami, Miami Beach, Music, New World Center, New World Symphony, Sound, SoundScape Park, talk, Uncategorized on 16/11/2016 at 5:45 pm

molly palmer, fountain, 2016

Conversations and Salon: Art Basel’s 2016 program in Miami Beach. Art Basel’s Conversations and Salon series will bring together celebrated artists, galleries, art historians, writers, curators, museum directors and collectors from across the globe, including Alexandre Arrechea, Wafaa Bilal, Francesco Clemente, Mark Dion, Lady Bunny, Julio Le Parc, Glenn Ligon, Tony Matelli, Jill Magid, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Damián Ortega, Bernardo Ortiz, Molly Palmer, Howardena Pindell, HE Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, Howard Rachofsky and Sun Xun among others.

Sunday, December 4, 2016
2pm to 3pm | Artist Talk | The Artist as Composer
Molly Palmer, Artist, London; Susannah Stark, Artist, London; Kathryn Mikesell, Founder, The Fountainhead Residency and Studios, Miami; Rachel Mason, Artist, Los Angeles. Moderator: William J. Simmons, Lecturer in Art History, City College of New York, New York. With an introduction by David Gryn, Curator of Art Basel’s Film sector and Founder of Daata Editions and Artprojx, London.

The Conversations and Salon talks are programmed by Mari Spirito, Founding Director, Protocinema, Istanbul/New York.


info on all the talks art basel press release


The Art Basel in Miami Beach Film & Sound program in Soundscape Park will be Free to attend on Wednesday, November 30 thru Saturday, December 3. The surround sound program starts at 6pm until 8pm and repeats each of the days, this is a compilation of sound artworks, played nightly during the fair from 6pm until 8pm, featuring artists commissioned to create or reform work into surround sound installations. This year’s artists include: Molly Palmer, Sussanah Stark, Ain Bailey, Zoe Buckman, Jonathan Montague and A.K. Burns.

The Film program starts at 8pm each night with a two hour compilation, repeated daily, of 28 moving image artworks screened under the title ‘Best Dressed Chicken in Town’. Artists include: Ana Mendieta, Anri Sala, Derrick Adams with Ramon Silvera, Samson Young, Kudzanai Chiurai, Edgardo Aragón, Luther Price, Catharina van Eetvelde, Ara Peterson, Matt Copson, Martin Creed, Jillian Mayer, György Kovásznai, Tromarama, Kim Gordon, Li Shurui & Li Daiguo, Adam Shecter, Brian Alfred, Dashiell Manley, Haroon Mirza, Zak Ové, Cabelo, Lena Daly, Nate Boyce, Tomislav Gotovac, Rodney Graham, Keren Cytter.

With a title borrowed from a classic 1970s reggae song by Jamaican dj/singer Doctor Alimantado, this year’s short film program focuses on a selection of international artists who engage with music in a multitude of ways. All the films in this varied and exciting program demonstrate the power of music to attract an audience, keep it engaged, elicit suspense and tug at the heartstrings. Similar to classical symphony works, the order of the films builds up to a crescendo creating an awe-inspiring magic derived from the works in their entirety.

Each night at 10pm there are uniquely featured Film program’s including a Rita Ackermann, Christian Marclay Double Bill on Wednesday, November 30, and a Liliana Porter and Alfredo Jaar Double Bill on the Friday, December 2.

On Thursday, December 1 a feature titled New Parthenon, with works by artists: Ain Bailey & Sonia Boyce, Anna Grenman, Rashid Johnson, Alex Prager, Penny Siopis.

The final screening titled Love Songs is on Saturday, December 3 will include four short films by Polish artist Wilhelm Sasnal.

All the works have a strong relationship with music.






Tuesday, November 29, 11:00 am
New World Center, SunTrust Pavilion
Coffee, tea and light pastries will be served
Free with RSVP/ticket

Featuring David Gryn, Kathryn Mikesell, Molly Palmer and John Kieser

RSVP/Tickets: www.nws.edu/insights

David Gryn, the curator of Art Basel’s Film & Sound programming and Director of Daata Editions in conversation with Kathryn Mikesell, founder of The Fountainhead Residency & Studios, Miami, and Molly Palmer, a London based artist commissioned for the Surround Sound program and will be resident at Fountainhead. Hosted by John Kieser, Executive Vice President and Provost of the New World Symphony.

A conversation around the curation of this years Film and Sound programming for Art Basel in Miami Beach and its relationship to music, the New World Center, collaborations between the various organisations, artists, residencies, curators and future plans and aspirations. There will be a chance to join in the conversations and ask questions.

For more information on the 2016 Art Basel events in SoundScape Park: http://www.nws.edu/events-tickets/art-basel-at-soundscape-park/.


Playfulness: Artists as Online Gamers, Surfers and Armchair Digital Revolutionaries, Salon talk at Art Basel Miami Beach Fri 5 Dec 2pm

In ABMB, Art, Art Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach, artists, Artprojx, Miami, talk on 25/11/2014 at 2:46 pm

Rachel Rose, A Minute Ago, 2014, 8’43”, Courtesy of the artist

Salon at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2014

Friday December 5th, 2 pm to 3 pm, Artist Talk,

Playfulness: Artists as Online Gamers, Surfers and Armchair Digital Revolutionaries

Tabor Robak, Artist, Brooklyn; Rachel Rose, Artist, New York; David Gryn, Curator of Art Basel’s Film sector and Founder of Artprojx, London. Moderator: Chrissie Iles, Curator, Whitney Museum, New York.


Conversations and Salon: Art Basel announces 2014 talks program in Miami Beach

Featuring artists, museum directors, collectors, and curators, Art Basel’s series of talks in Miami Beach will offer intimate dialogs between prominent members of the international art world. Participants this year will include Marina Abramović, Nicholas Baume, Lynda Benglis, Klaus Biesenbach, Claire Bishop, Simon de Pury, Liu Ding, Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, Ryan Gander, Mario García Torres, Massimiliano Gioni, Nicolás Goldberg, David Gryn, Chrissie Iles, Joseph Kosuth, Pablo León de la Barra, Ryan McNamara, Pedro Reyes, Martha Rosler, Julian Schnabel, Kevin Systrom, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Amalia Ulman, Shen Wei and Martha Wilson.

Conversations, Art Basel’s talks series that highlights important issues by bringing together influential art world personalities, will open on Thursday, December 4, with the Premiere Artist Talk, which this year will feature legendary American artist Lynda Benglis. Looking at new funding models of the visual arts, Friday’s Conversation will pair Dennis Scholl, Collector and Vice President, Knight Foundation, with Stephanie Pereira, International Partnership Lead at Kickstarter, plus the gallerist Jérôme Poggi from Paris. The panel discussion will be moderated by András Szántó. Conversations will also present the latest edition of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s ongoing series looking at artistic practice, entitled ‘The Artist as Curator’, with the artists Joseph Kosuth, Liu Ding, Martha Rosler, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Martha Wilson.

Salon, the open platform for shorter presentations during the afternoon, will feature artist talks, panel discussions, lectures with curators, museum directors, and artists. Performance will be a key consideration, with an artist talk with Ryan McNamara and Claire Bishop; a panel discussion with several performance artists featured in Public and Nicholas Baume; an artist talk with Chinese artist and choreographer Shen Wei; and Marina Abramović on a panel entitled ‘Materials for Immateriality’, moderated by Sam Keller, Director of Fondation Beyeler.

The potential of digital platforms – both as an artistic medium and as a market place – will be discussed in several panels across the week. On Friday, December 5, Chrissie Iles, curator at the Whitney Museum, New York will lead a talk with David Gryn, curator of Art Basel’s Film sector and artists Tabor Robak and Rachel Rose, looking at artists as digital revolutionaries. Salon will also feature a discussion focused on ‘Instagram as an Artistic Medium’ with Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator-at-Large at Museum of Modern Art, New York; Simon de Pury, Auctioneer, Art Dealer, New York/London; Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery, London; Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram and artist Amalia Ulman. Linking to Art Basel’s Crowdfunding Initiative, which was launched this September, select participating non-profit organizations will discuss their experiences. Panelists will include representatives from Locust Projects, Miami; SculptureCenter, New York; Delfina Foundation, London; as well as representatives of the Art Basel Crowdfunding Jury and Kickstarter.

The evolution of the editorial world in a constantly-growing digital era will also be discussed, with a panel bringing together Stefano Cernuschi, Head of Publications at Mousse Publishing; Andrew McClintock, Publisher, Editor in Chief and Co-Founder of SFAQ; and moderator Sarah Douglas, Editor in Chief of ARTnews.

Conversations, which is supported by Absolut, takes place daily from Thursday, December 4, to Sunday, December 7, 10am to 11.30am. Talks from the Conversations program are free to the public. Salon runs every afternoon from Thursday, December 4, to Sunday, December 7. Art Basel entry tickets include admission to Salon talks.

Art Basel’s talks program takes place in Hall C auditorium of the Miami Beach Convention Center. High-quality videos of all Conversations and Salon talks will be available at artbasel.com/miamibeach/talks.

The full talks program is available at artbasel.com/miamibeach/talks.


Thursday, December 4, Premiere, Artist Talk, Lynda Benglis

Lynda Benglis, whose innovative and vivid sculptures have been challenging the art establishment for half a century, will inaugurate this year’s Conversations series. Her work is about expression of space, color, texture and substance – materials that have been widely explored in her remarkable career. But Lyndas’ art also thematizes sex, power and gender, as infamously stated with her advertisement in the ‘Artforum’ November issue of 1974, which startled the 1970s artworld and provoked unpredictable responses. Today, 40 years later, how far have we (not) progressed?

Lynda Benglis, Artist, New York/Santa Fe/East Hampton

Friday, December 5, Public/Private, New Funding Models for the Visual Arts

The conversation explores a number of pressing matters surrounding the question of funding for the arts in general and visual arts in particular, amongst the context of a booming art market. The panel will discuss possibilities to ensure that adequate resources continue to flow not only to commercially popular artists, but also to the many non-profit organizations that contribute to a healthy ecology for the visual arts.

Stephanie Pereira, International Partnerships Lead at Kickstarter, New York; Jérôme Poggi, Gallerist, Paris; Dennis Scholl, Collector and Vice President, Knight Foundation, Miami. Moderator: András Szántó, Author and Cultural Consultant, New York

Saturday, December 6, Shifting Boundaries: Art Initiatives in an Expanding Globe

This panel features Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, founder and president of CIFO, Miami, in conversation with Pablo León de la Barra ̧ Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Latin America, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, London.

Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, founder and president of CIFO, Miami; Pablo León de la Barra ̧ Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Latin America, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, London

Moderator: Abaseh Mirvali, Independent Contemporary Art & Architecture Project Producer and Curator, Berlin/Mexico City

Sunday, December 7, Artistic Practice, The Artist as Curator

This panel provides an overview of different artistic practices. At this installment, Hans Ulrich Obrist invites artists who are also operating in a curatorial role, not only for their own show, but who also for the exhibitions of others artists.

Liu Ding, Artist and Curator, Beijing; Rirkrit Tiravanija, Artist, New York, Berlin, Chiang Mai; Joseph Kosuth, Artist, New York; Martha Rosler, Artist, Brooklyn, New York; Martha Wilson, Artist and Founding Director of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc., New York
Moderator: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery, London


Thursday, December 4

3 pm to 4 pm, Artist Talk, Materials for Immateriality

Marina Abramović, Artist, New York; Patrizia Moroso, Creative Director of Italian design brand Moroso, Udine; Patricia Urquiola, Designer, Milan.
Moderator: Sam Keller, Director, Fondation Beyeler, Basel.

4 pm to 5 pm, Artist Talk, Ryan McNamara

Ryan McNamara, Artist, Brooklyn, in conversation with Claire Bishop, Art Historian and Critic, New York.

5 pm to 6 pm, Digital Talk, Instagram as an Artistic Medium

Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator-at-Large at Museum of Modern Art, New York; Simon de Pury, Auctioneer, Art Dealer, New York/London; Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery, London; Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram, New York; Amalia Ulman, Artist, Los Angeles/London/Gijón

Moderator: Bettina Korek, Founder of ForYourArt, Los Angeles

6 pm to 7 pm, Art Market Talk

Alexander S. C. Rower, President of Calder Foundation, New York, in conversation with Josh Baer, Publisher of Baer Faxt and Art Advisor, New York

Friday, December 5

1 pm to 2 pm Artist Talk, Mario García Torres

Mario García Torres, Artist, Mexico City, in conversation with Tobias Ostrander, PAMM Chief Curator, Miami.

2 pm to 3 pm, Artist Talk, Playfulness: Artists as Online Gamers, Surfers and Armchair Digital Revolutionaries
David Gryn, Curator of Art Basel’s Film sector and Founder of Artprojx, London; Tabor Robak, Artist, Brooklyn; Rachel Rose, Artist, New York.

Moderator: Chrissie Iles, Curator, New York.

3 pm to 4 pm, Artist talk, Theo Jansen’s Strandbeast Project

Theo Jansen, Artist, The Hague and Lena Herzog, Photographer, Los Angeles, in conversation with Trevor Smith, Curator of Contemporary Art at Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts.

4 pm to 5 pm, Discussion, Y.ES Collect Contemporary Art El Salvador

Claire Breukel, Chief Curator, MARTE Contemporary and Editor of Y.ES, San Salvador, El Salvador; Mario Cáder-Frech, Collector, Founder of MARTE Contemporary and Publisher of Y.ES, Miami; Simón Vega, Artist and Co-editor of Y.ES, La Libertad, El Salvador, Tom Healy, Executive Director of the Miami Book Fair International

Moderator: Sam Keller, Director of Fondation Beyeler, Basel.

5 pm to 6 pm, Discussion, Public Art: Fieldwork
Ryan Gander, Artist, London, Liz Glynn, Artist, Los Angeles and Nicolás Goldberg, Buenos Aires, in conversation with Nicholas Baume, Curator of Art Basel’s Public sector and Director & Chief Curator of Public Art Fund, New York.

6 pm to 7 pm, Discussion, Art Basel’s Crowdfunding Initiative: Focus Projects

Chana Budgazad Sheldon, Executive Director at Locust Projects, Miami; Mary Ceruti, Executive Director and Chief Curator at SculptureCenter, New York; Aaron Cezar, Director of Delfina Foundation, London; Stephanie Pereira, International Partnerships, Lead at Kickstarter, New York; Glenn Phillips, Acting Head of the Department of Architecture and Contemporary Art at Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; Mari Spirito, Founding Director, Protocinema, Istanbul/New York.
Moderator: András Szántó, Author and Cultural Consultant, New York.

Saturday, December 6

1pm to 2 pm, Discussion, The State of Printed Magazines in the Digital Era

Stefano Cernuschi, Head of Publications at Mousse Publishing, Milan; Andrew McClintock, Publisher, Editor in Chief and Co-Founder of SFAQ, San Francisco.
Moderator: Sarah Douglas, Editor in Chief of ARTnews

2 pm to 3 pm, Artist Talk, Pedro Reyes
Pedro Reyes, Artist, Mexico City in conversation with Alex Gartenfeld, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of ICA, Miami

3 pm to 4 pm, Book Talk, 33 Artists in 3 Acts by Sarah Thornton
Massimiliano Gioni, Artistic Director at New Museum, New York; Sarah Thornton, Writer and Sociologist of Art, London.
Moderator: András Szántó, Author and Cultural Consultant, New York.

4 pm to 5 pm, Artist Talk, Julian Schnabel

Julian Schnabel, Artist, Filmmaker, New York, in conversation with Bonnie Clearwater, Art Director and Chief Curator, NSU Museum.

5 pm to 6 pm, Artist Talk, Media Death

Dora Budor, Artist, New York; Ian Cheng, Artist, New York; in conversation with Lauren Cornell, Curator, New Museum Of Contemporary Art, New York.

6 pm to 7pm, Artist Talk, Shen Wei: In Black, White and Gray

Weng Ling, Curator and Founder of Beijing Center for the Arts and Artistic Director, China Center NYC, Beijing, Karin Oen, Curator, Crow 
Collection of Asian Art, Dallas, and Shen Wei, Artist and Choreographer, New York, in conversation with Jeremy Mikolajczak, Executive Director and Chief Curator, MDC Museum of Art + Design, Miami.

Sunday, December 7

1 pm to 2 pm, Discussion, The Caribbean Artspace – maintaining curatorial integrity under socio-economic pressure
Amanda Coulson, Director of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, The Bahamas; Veerle Poupeye, Executive Director of the National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston

Moderator: Rachael Barrett, Founder Director Three Sixty Degrees, Kingston/New York

2 pm to 3 pm TBC

Panels and participants to be announced. For the latest information, please visit artbasel.com/basel/salon.



David Gryn



Dara Birnbaum and David Gryn in conversation

In Art, Art Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Fair, Artprojx, Artprojx Cinema, Dara Birnbaum, David Gryn, SoundScape Park on 06/12/2013 at 11:28 pm

Arabesque by Dara Birnbaum. New World Center, SoundScape Park, Art Basel Miami Beach 2013

Dara Birnbaum and David Gryn in conversation at the Salon at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2013.

In the preceding months in advance of our talk at the Art Fair, we emailed various questions and answers to each other.

The talk will be online via Art Basel soon.

These questions and answers are probably more detailed than those in the live talk.


Image: Dara Birnbaum, PM Magazine/Acid Rock, Marian Goodman Gallery

DB = Dara Birnbaum

DG = David Gryn

DB: Since you invited me and my work to ABMB 2013, I would be very curious as to the reasons behind your curating it in at this specific time.

DG: I had been thinking of works that I knew that would be ideal to play in the New World (Symphony) Center location, Arabesque was rooted in my thoughts, but stayed in the margins, due to its 4 screens (as seen at the South London Gallery), so your willingness to create a single screen version filled me with delight. 

DG: How does the single verses the 4 screen work for you ?

DB: But, I was willing to try and see if the component parts actually could be re-organized into the singular film frame. Of course, that frame is purposefully broken up and each of the constituent images perform in slightly different ways.

I very much had in mind this particular screening (its premiere) – of a incredibly large outdoor projection surface and the way people would be placed in relation to that screen image. I chose to make the appropriated film section larger, without being completely dominant – but regaining a declaration of “film” space. The quotations from YouTube run alongside, in their alternating pattern. When the Clara Schumann work is played, the frame is basically split in two – with the piano work composed by her via YouTube, alongside quotations from her diary.

DB: What issues and/or visual/audio enticements spurred you on, precisely now?

DG: I too am fascinated by the internet and how it and we are evolving with each other and all of its inherent languages. When I first discovered Clara Schumann, I thought I had discovered and unearthed a great mystery, as I thought her music was as or more magical than Robert Schumann’s. So I have always carried a torch for her and was always aware of the imbalance of the male/female relationship. What is it about Clara Schumann that inspires/inspired you ?

DB: I see the internet and YouTube, carried by the Internet, as two different, but interwoven, things/phenomenon. YouTube mainly being postings of performative works that people wish to have seen and/or remarkable documents, from performances to real life situations, etc.

I have respected Clara Schumann’s original musical compositions throughout the years, although they are not that well-known, or played in repertoire, etc. When I looked for the work by Clara Schumann, which I utilized in “Arabesque” I found, at the time, only one live recording of it on YouTube, yet it is a magnificent composition. Whereas, for the works of Robert Schumann there are hundreds of recordings that were made. I also “carried a torch” for Clara Schumann as she was a gifted pianist, who introduced the work of Robert Schumann to widening European audiences and fought for that music to be heard and known. Then, she had to balance a family of eight children and keep it all going while her husband was prone to mental illness, eventually taking his own life. When reading her diaries, I had mixed feelings about Clara, thinking that this maybe a woman I might not have “liked” (a nature toward an upper-class snobbery), but I definitely more than admired her strength and gifts.

DB: Of course, I know you are very supportive of “Arabesque” and its potential connection to this site-specific outdoor screening area, connected to, I believe, the Symphony Center in Miami Beach?

DG: I always try and think about the space, the place and the connections between places. So in Miami, I think about the New World Center, the Art Fair and the City of Miami and how they all relate and interact. I have a sense of broadcasting out of the wall from the music center to the art center/fair/festival. 

DB: “Arabesque” was originaly made as a large-scale installation – some 40+ feet in length and more than 6 ft. in height for the projections. The audio is treated in a most seriously and there are stereo channels/speakers for each of the 4 video channels of the work. So, you would enter into a darkened chamber of image and sound. It was meant to be an acoustical chamber as much as a visual art work. Now it is important to see how the work will respond to a different environment, one that puts it in-situ with a well established place for musical performance, The New World Center. It is like turning the inside out and directing a symbolic core out to an audience under the night sky. It will probably be like a – hopefully effective – “broadcast” but as with a broadcast, you get a secondary feeling from it. It brings you closer (through the enlarged and exaggerated image) but is still regulated to being a singular very large frame, like perhaps getting infinitely close to a painting, but without really being able to see the brushstrokes – just a large gestalt of the real.

DG: I have been fascinated by the relationship of the NWC to the Art Fair and the spaces inbetween, how audience react to the two and how one brings a city together for projects. I also see the wall of the NWC as a monitor to what goes on inside (ie the making of music) – so when I made the request to you for a single screen version of Arabesque – it was because I couldn’t imagine anything more appropriate, the focus on Clara Schumann. The projection of the inside to the outside. There is also the image of Kathryn Hepburn which brings along a Hollywood favourite too – which also has a resonance to our audience here. How did you see this all working ? and did/does it work as you hoped ?

DB: When asked to perform the work as a single-channel video, I very much had in mind the scope of the 7,000 square foot screen. Thereby, I thought to allow the film/movie image of, for example, Kathryn Hepburn, to reign larger than in the installation version of “Arabesque.” It seemed appropriate to let the captioned film segments loom slightly larger, yet not allow them to take over.

DG: As a result of thinking about you and your work and selecting older works too, I have realised that I have the hugest resource for programming film at an Art Fair … the last 40 years of moving image making by artists. The new is often limited and the old often neglected in lieu of venerating the fresh and exciting and not the experienced and acknowledged. The audience here and probably everywhere has seen so little. 

Which artists would you show and why?

DB: Let me think about this more. I would probably show a combination of early works and recent contemporary work. I like that combination. It is sometimes hard to capture a general audience with work that is “difficult,” but very exceptional and worthwhile. That is always hard to do with large audiences and continuous programs within the context of art fairs, where usually art work is looked at very quickly and then one moves on, unless they almost “trip” upon something that is profoundly to their liking (or that has gained advance publicity through the press.) Perhaps the screenings will command a necessary reparation from the fragmentation of the art fairs. It is sometimes very good to have a place to sit and allow for moving image works, in their entirety, to be absorbed, after a day of utter fragmentation.

DB: Are you also interested, culturally, as to when these works were formulated – what surrounding atmosphere and sphere of activity helped propel them forward ?

DG:  With regards to gender/feminism – what were the conditions that shaped you at the launch of your career ?. It seems that performance and video were fairly new areas to explore in the 70‘s and thus not already dominated by men – so was it that the timing was just right ? or ? It is interesting to know what made you feel the need to make Arabesque and the current status of gender balance (and hierarchies) in the art world and the wider world ?

DB: There has been much speculation that since video was a fairly new area to explore in the 70s, it was not already dominated by men. There is some truth to that, although I felt that many male artists were – and still are – seen as a predominant force. I know that I was, at first, most affected by a number of male artists using video – such as Nauman, Acconci, and Graham. Then, the grandfather of video was seen as Nam June Paik. “Radical Software,” an exceptional early magazine/journal on video was male dominated (such as Frank Gillette, Ira Schneider, and Paul Ryan.) I was less aware of the work of Joan Jonas or Carolee Schneemann, for example. I was aware of Simon Forti, or others oriented in performance and movement, such as Trisha Brown and Yvonne Rainer. But, the real use and exploration of video remained somewhat with male artists – such as Bill Viola and Gary Hill. However, the equipment started to be readily available through small post-production studios funded by grants, etc. When I first encountered video, in Florence, Italy, through the gallery, Centro Diffusione dell Grafica, many well-known artists came through and were encouraged to do video works (around 1974) by the gallery’s owner/director Maria Gloria Bicocchi. Then there were artists such as Vito Acconci, Charlemagne Palestine, and Joan Jonas. That is how I was first exposed to video as an art form. However, the main control was in the hands of a few young men, Italian and primarily studying architecture. I thought I would never get my hands on the equipment. So, I returned to NYC, where several artists coming through  Florence, told me it was very active in the arts (mid-70s.) Someone lent me a portapak and my first works were made (1975.)

“Arabesque” like many of my works from early on concentrates on the representation of women, or their stereotyping or lost identity. This begins with “Technology/ Transformation: Wonder Woman” in 1978/9 and goes through more contemporary works, such as “Erwartung” (2001), and now “Arabesque” (2011.)

Even the “Damnation of Faust Trilogy” (1983-1987) brings significance to the role of the woman (who is seen taking both the identity of “Faust” and “Marguerite/Gretchen.”) At the end of that work, social and political identity supplant singular female identity. “Canon: Taking to the Street” (1990) also delves into individual identity (especially, but not limited to, violence perpetrated on women – but also extended to men.) It relates individual identity and victimization through the strength to be found in group/societal relations.

We can, of course, talk about the need for a feminist practice in the art world – and in the world-at-large.

DG: The show curated at Wilkinson by Karen Archey, with artists such Cory Arcangel – was a celebration of your role at the helm of appropriation from TV and the internet. How was this for you ? Which younger artists to you admire and why ?

DB: Unfortunately, I was not offered to be brought over for the show by Karen Archey at Wilkinson Gallery. So, I have no real idea how it came across, although I felt honored to be put in that position. I know Cory Arcangel. We were put together by “Artforum” several years ago to do the cover story for one issue – a dialogue between us. I think you can still find it online. Not sure. I can see Cory as the next generation to me and had a great time conversing with him, as well as getting to know his work on a deeper level of understanding. Most of the artists in the show curated by Karen Archey I did not know. Nor, unfortunately have I gotten a chance to know them. I find this true of a lot of work by younger artists today. In all honesty it is hard for me to keep up. I can keep up with a generation following me, like Cory, whom I have admiration for. Other artists are the ones I know through colleagues, or people I have worked with – for example – at Electronic Arts Intermix. I know, through EAI’s collection, artists like Ryan Trecartin, Seth Price, Shana Moulton, Kalup Linzy, Antoine Catala, Michael Bell-Smith, etc. I follow at a distance the work of people like Isaac Julien. Through the Marian Goodman Gallery I know Steve McQueen’s and William Kentridge’s work in-depth. But of course they are both advanced in their careers and not younger artists. I don’t follow artists working with the internet, or that Karen Archey feels are affected by the internet.

DG: What are your current influences and driving thoughts ?

DB: I am most affected by historical positions – such as I was with the installation work “Erwartung” (re-examining a moment in time, in that case the beginning of the 20th c. and “the woman” as portrayed by Marie Pappenheim in her libretto for Schoenberg’s opera.) I have been traumatized by our political positions in the U.S., especially in relation to the wars we have carried out in the Mideast and our treatment of the environment. So, I seem to have (perhaps retreated) turned my attention on gender politics – with works such as “Tapestry: An Elergy for Donna” (2005, lesser known installation), or lately with “Arabesque” (2011.) I was recently attempting to work on another opera “La Sonnabula” by Bellini, whose main character is a woman who sleepwalks. I hit a wall and am trying to knock it down, or go around it. I seem more affected by incredible historical works than by most of the art that is happening today. The current political positions of the U.S. and the trauma of the bombing of the “World Trade Center,” which I was an eye witness to, have left a part of me speechless.

DG: Are there any outstanding events that have significantly shaped you as an artist ? 

DB: I felt that I “grew up” during the years I lived in Berkeley, California – from 1970-1974. It was a hotbed of political activity in the U.S. Those years and the philosophies of the continuance of the New Left movements from that crucible greatly affected me and are the core of what all my early works were derived from, along with a strong attention to the role of women, as portrayed through mass media. So, the earliest works like “Lesson Plans: To Keep the Revolution Alive” (1977) where from this foundation and my increasing interest in the role of dominant media (as television) within our culture. From Berkeley, as well, I became aware of the women’s movement. Then other events greatly affected me along the way – the first bombing of the World Trade Center (producing the work on terrorism, entitled “Hostage,” 1994), or the events of “Tiananmen Square” (“Tiananmen Square: Break-In Transmission,” 1990.) The Gulf War greatly affected me (“Transmission Tower: Sentinel,” 1992, commissioned by documenta IX.) Then, I let my politics emerge more through an active position with various groups (rather than through my art), such as “Care 2,” “Move On,” and many environmental and animal rights groups. I continued with my desire to investigate and re-portray the role of women within technocratic cultures, but I haven’t been able to directly take-on the vast and extraordinarily complex political situation of today. In other words, I have been “terrorized.”

DG: How has the art world environment changed since you started ? How do you see the art environment now ? My environment has changed by there being more art fairs and their dominance reigns, and over the growth of the Art Fair phenomenon, there has been incrementally less and less galleries showing video/film at Art Fairs. My view is that it remains a relative non-commodity, thus not deemed appropriate for Art Fairs, but needs to be seen by the Art (Fair) appreciating audience, which now focusses their art viewing attention on Art Fair seasons. 

DB: I feel a bit lost in the corporate values of today’s art world, from my point-of-reference. I had great admiration for the arts developed the generation before me.

I had been affected by “conceptual art” and the early works of Daniel Buren and Michael Asher, for example. Then of course by both the Pop Art movement, in my years growing up in NYC (like Warhol and Lichtenstein), and also the minimalists (like LeWitt), along with Flavin, Andre, etc. Then it was the work of Acconci and Graham that influenced me.

Unfortunately, you can see that I am only naming male artists! The women I was drawn to were more along the line of performance art – especially Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer, and Simone Forti. There is a great discrepancy in relation to the “value” of the work of art in what Lippard determined as “the dematerialization of the art object” and the value placed on “works” of art today. I was more interested in process than product. In video I thought that my work would be more along the lines of unlimited editions (such as with the single-channel video work, as distributed through organizations and non-profits such as EAI) and was more involved with video distribution than I was with “collection.” Now there is an attempt to control everything, in light of the edition and marketing of art works, along with the terrible concern of “ownership” (as shown through the need for proper releases and concern with copyright, etc.) I also don’t like the engagement and cross-over with the fashion industry, the entertainment industry, and the arts.

DG: How do you see the relationship between art and the commodity ? and can they really exist together ?

DB: This has been a question throughout much of our Western European-American history, especially since the Renaissance. The two have been endlessly entangled in Western European culture (and now throughout other cultures in the world, as the MidEast, Qatar, for example.) Art becomes commodified, beyond its essential existence or “soul.” Some of the best work of our culture – performances by Trisha Brown and Company are, in essence, non-commodified or not as easily commodified. Commodification limits the ability to concentrate on process and brings down the essence of the work to object nature and product. I am more a believer in the authenticity of the artistic statement, which becomes more removed the more commodification takes place. Of course there are artists who play on this edge, such as Jeff Koons and Damian Hirst.

DG: What would your advice be to a young artist with a view to empowering them ?

DB: It is hard to give great advice to younger artists. Patti Smith has tried to tell younger artists to get out of New York City, that it can no longer support the position of a real artist. David Byrne has recently done the same. When rents and living necessities are sky-high, it is hard to think clearly about one’s art. However, NYC and London, for example still service as hubs for young artists. The resources of NYC, for example, are priceless – such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, and MoMA, amongst so much else. I like for younger artists to stay as independent as possible of “the hype” and to progress at their own rate. A hard thing to do now-in-days with so much pressure on them. When I came back to NYC (from Europe) in 1975, specifically to engage in the arts, my rent was $125/month for a full floor small loft in the downtown area. I was able to waitress three days a week, make my rent, and also do my art.

DG: How do you relate to our ever evolving space of the internet and the gadgets that we use to explore and utilise it ?

I use the internet for communication and for research. I haven’t been able to make art work directly inspired by it, or on it, other than using the voices of YouTube, as with “Arabesque.” I used to never use FaceBook and now find myself checking it – ever so rapidly (like speed reading) – at the end of each day. I find many postings of worthwhile articles, along with death notices that hit there before they are announced in newspapers, etc. I rapidly scan it and find what I am most interested in and need. I have about 5,000 friends and that seems to do it.

I am usually against “gadgets,” but can see things as working tools. For example, I own a iPad mini that goes almost everywhere with me. However, I still don’t own a smart phone! When I am waiting for someone, or for a meal, or in a doctor’s office I do research now. I love the instantaneous access to information and the wide breathe of it. But, one must be aware that every action is now under surveillance and that even our email is being read (such as Google looking for which ads are to be directed at us, based upon our communication.) Uncensored access to information is most important to me.

Copyright: David Gryn and Dara Birnbaum