WHAT WOULD BENIGNGIRL DO ABOUT ARTS COVERAGE?

The name of this blog came from a toy I found at the dollar store on High Street in Holyoke last summer. The story of that lucky find is on a page link to the right in my nav bar –>, or you can click here.

As the show, Cover Me, (posted about below) nears its opening reception tomorrow and I have more and more conversations with people about the issue and how I (and the voices in my head) feel about arts coverage and the local media, I wonder what Benigngirl would have done. I think she’d have smiled benignly and made her shy Barbie face. This blog is ironically named perhaps. I should change the name to Unfilteredgirl, or, UnfilteredCrazyLady.

I spent the day Thursday with Geoff Edgers of The Boston Globe who is writing an article about this exhibit. As I find myself more and more debating and discussing the issue of arts coverage (with real people and not just my other selves), I find that I keep coming back to the point that I tried to make so carefully in my curatorial statement (below), which is that this show is not an attack or even a strong criticism of local writers and/or papers but a respectful pondering of the issue and that as an artist I wish the arts coverage were more proportionate to the arts and artists needing coverage. I also wish the free listings sections were sufficient to accommodate all arts events rather than the arbitrary lottery system seemingly in place to fit space constraints. That way every event would at least get a listing.

I am not necessarily speaking for myself. I have had pretty good coverage, actually. And I am not a martyr either–I wouldn’t mind if all of my shows were covered, certainly. I took up this issue in a blog post because of all the comments I kept hearing from fellow artists and because I was the one with the arts blog at The Valley Advocate (advocate, advocacy, conjunction junction, blah blah BLAH). This is not a narcissistic show in which I enlisted the aid of a dozen fellow artists to help me complain about my own coverage. Although I am as narcissistic as your average person in the truest sense of the word which is to mean that I often fear that I don’t exist, rather than being in love with myself, which is the common misperception of the meaning behind the myth of Narcissus. Narcissus could not stop looking at his reflection because he was so aware of his insignificance and when he looked away from his reflection, he doubted his very existence. Perhaps arts coverage assuages our literal narcissistic tendencies rather than feed our egos? But this show about the lack of arts coverage is more of an all-for-one and one-for-all thing. It is not solely about my possibly non-existent self. It’s not about me, it’s about us.

Ha! The part above in blue made me laugh aloud because the other day a friend asked my advice as to how to tell a lunch date that he didn’t want to have a second date. He was going to use the old, “It’s not you, it’s me” line but I suggested he take a more dignified and less transparently cliche approach and go on a second date but talk the whole time with food in his mouth, wiiiide open.

Anyway-I don’t think my efforts will change anything and am not delusional that change can be effected (yet am admittedly delusional in general), but because this was an issue I kept hearing people discuss, I made a post in another blog about it and when dared to do so, I took on the task of putting on this show. I understand budgets and that news is all that a paper is obligated to cover and that there is too much going on to cover etc. But putting on a show in which artists use their art to address the issue of arts coverage is as valid as putting on a show of still life or extreme ironing (which I’d like to do, actually). And the subsequent discussions and opinions about the issue have all been enlighteningly philosophical and varied and all have validity.

If nothing else, it has stirred up interest and seems to merit an article by The Boston Globe. And so it goes. Of all the pieces I have sold, I miss Narcissivision the most.

One Response to “WHAT WOULD BENIGNGIRL DO ABOUT ARTS COVERAGE?”

  1. As a writer (and occasional installation & performance artist), as well as a…..what, radical? i find an obvious parallel in the issue of a growing lack of mainstream media coverage of both the arts and progressive politics. Over the past few decades there has been rising awareness of the effects of the corporate media on the flow of information within this society. This writer became heavily involved with Indymedia at the turn of the century because of the mega injustice being foisted upon us by the corporate media. Without going through the entire litany of assaults upon our minds (and upon the Commons, as in the PUBLIC airwaves) by these corporados, maybe i should just focus on the rise of mindless commercial infotainment for the purpose of this discussion. (You can find just about anything you want to know about all the other various aspects of media consolidation and the corporate media as Big Brother, washing yur’ brains with glee while turning a tidy profit at: http://www.freepress.net/ ).

    It was not all that long ago that this valley in Western Massachusetts had two alternative news & arts weeklies, an all arts monthly out of Springfield, and extensive arts coverage in the dailies and over the airwaves, especially on public radio. At the same time, though to a lesser extent, the Valley also had its share of independent progressive political publications. All this has changed for the worse as corporate media grows more powerful and glorifies lifestyles of trendy self-absorption and incivility. Wealth accumulation, power and status has been trumpeted on television and in Hollywood more than ever before. Concepts of social justice, civility, peace and yes, love, are depicted as passe, naive, uncool, sooooo ’60s.

    This sort of perception management serves the interests of both the neoconservatives and their infiltration of government and the corporate and commercial powers who want us shopping at the mall rather than protesting in the streets or going to art shows or local theater performances. At the same time, the neocon assault upon wages and benefits (and, of course, arts funding) for middle and low-income citizens has people working more than ever to keep bread on the table, cutting deeply into any free time they might have to pursue cultural or political interests or goals, or create art or campaigns on social or environmental issues. All the better to controll you, my dear!

    The mainstream media, being for the most part a function of commerce, reflects the corporados managed perception and sidelines the “old news” of selfless, or at least not-so-selfish and anti-materialistic values. The corporate media does it in spades, local mainstream media does it to keep up with the jones’. And, naturally, the consolidation of local news outlets by national corporations and the resulting high costs of competing in a corporate dominated arena make it close to impossible to establish an independent voice. Indymedia tries to do that and many other more successful internet-based efforts continue to do that, but the internet labors under the dilutionary effects of info-glut and is way overshadowed by television and other corporate media monopolies.

    Soooo, this is what we are up against: the rebels vs. The Empire. I’ll take the rebels any day. They have better uniforms too! But best of all (and i trust i’m not being too “naive” here) they hold the values that just plain feel good. They have refrigerators that say: “Kindness”. You DO exist: your words, your thoughts, your creations are all the proof you need. The artist has the advantage of creating something, manifesting something that touches others, stays with them; sometimes it’s an object they can touch or look at, sometimes it’s a memory etched into their soul. We all need that. Do not let The Empire win, ever.

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