A word of explanation is required to accompany our decision to publish the cover. Our Declaration of Independence. The Art world is composed of many bubbles and we all exist inside our own bubble. Including the New Art Examiner which is a journal of critical opinion.
After the recent election in the US and the Referendum in the UK it is quite clear issues of identity have surfaced with much dismay, and questioning the new status quo is coursing through public opinion. Centre stage in the current concern is the role and the influence of media. The ethical questions circulate around fake news, propaganda, PR and the matter of informed, or not so informed, opinion are paramount.
The NAE cannot escape these concerns. so we decided to share with our readers our own code of conduct. It is, of course, an ideal that we have evolved since inception in October 1973 in Chicago. Sometimes we fail as we do not have the resources to control all circumstances.
The basic issue is censorship. The controlling of opinion and the problem of free speech is the major issue in today’s world. In particular, the Art World that is seen as corrupt and hijacked by money, with Big Brother in place. To paraphrase George Orwell and Animal Farm, “we are all individuals but some are more individual than others” – here lies the fantasy. An illusion that drives the art world no matter what bubble the artist or art lover resides in. The comfort factor is, in many cases, a retirement from the fray.
The New Art Examiner was born as a resistance to censorship. A long story from the past, but the issues are even more pressing today. That is the reward system that the Art World runs on. Who is in? and who is out? and how does the money run? including grants, residencies and teaching positions offered and to whom? and why? Censorship whether absolute or in part are forms of political coercion or in extreme cases professional assassination.
The co-founders of the NAE simply refused to be disappeared by the Chicago Art hierarchy. The NAE survives today supported by two teams. One in Chicago USA the other in Cornwall UK. There was a good faith understanding that each team generated its own editor copy to be published without interference or agreement from the other team. Unfortunately, arrogance once again reared its ugly head and the copy submitted from the UK that had the approval of the UK editor and publisher was deliberately sidelined and downgraded by the Associate Publisher Michael Segard in Chicago. This decision was part of a conspiracy to take over the NAE and defy its nature and status. The mutiny has failed as our writers have rallied to support the integrity of the NAE.
This highlights a larger question of the purpose and role of critical discourse, or art criticism. The NAE is very aware of the danger and problems of independent opinion. Simply, everybody wants to gather favorable opinion. There is not a perfect or safe answer to this dilemma. The NAE alone and uniquely along with a tendency to side with issues of artists, offers to all artists the opportunity for expression and the opportunity to start any dialogue by writing to the editor. All letters accepted automatically. Most artists in our society are beaten down into passive creatures. Fear is paramount, proving the unpleasant truth. “some individuals are more individual than others’. The NAE wants to believe in artists and wishes to avoid the hucksters and gatekeepers and other flunkeys who wait on Big Brother. or the wizard of OZ.
Volume 31 number 5 May /June 2017 p 3