Anger after Grayson Perry claims Covid will eliminate ‘deadwood’ arts | Art and design


Grayson Perry has drawn criticism from fellow artists after claiming that the economic fallout from Covid-19 would rid galleries of ‘deadwood’.“I think every part of life probably has a little bit of fat that needs to be cut,” Perry told Arts Society magazine. “It’s horrible that the cultural sector has been decimated, but I think some things had to go. Too often, culture’s audience is just the people who make it up – theaters with an entire audience of actors, or exhibitions staged just to impress other curators.

With new lockdown restrictions forcing museums and galleries to close again on Wednesday, the already grim image of artists and staff at UK galleries and museums is expected to worsen. The Southbank Center is forced to lose up to a third of its staff. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Museums in Liverpool have both announced plans to cut around 100 jobs. The National Trust will cut 1,200 jobs. Many smaller institutions are also cutting positions, including the South London Gallery and the Chisenhale Gallery in east London.

The majority of layoffs come from reception and education staff.

The Royal Academy is looking to lose more than a hundred staff. An artist, who preferred to remain anonymous given the ongoing negotiations, but who works at the institution leading tours and educational workshops, reacted angrily to Perry’s comments.

“While the views of Perry from his ivory tower may help the establishment and museum managers sleep at night, it does not help the very real struggle of art workers trying like everyone else to survive this. pandemic. All workers need solidarity. Before Covid, the arts flourished. It is dishonest to decrease the contributions of arts workers in the midst of a pandemic in which they face layoffs to gain cheap publicity and support the art elite.

Perry was appointed Royal Academician in 2011 and in 2018 he hosted the annual Summer Open Submission Exhibition.

“With Covid, it was like turning a computer off and on and seeing which files reappear. We don’t really care about some of them. What’s interesting is what might not reappear, ”Perry said.

Another occasional RA staff member noted: “The ones who lose will be the young professionals at the start of their careers; precisely the innovators and agents of change that our industry badly needs. Sadly, I think the post-Covid art scene will again see white male surnames in the foreground, as they provide reliable tickets.

Perry emerged in the 1990s, a flamboyant figure who harvested as many column inches for his cross-dressing alter ego Claire as his ceramics. In 2003, he won the Turner Prize. Most recently, he directed a series of well-received documentaries for Channel 4.

“Grayson’s job often pokes fun at the liberal elite who buy it, but maybe he’s just come full circle by joining their ranks. Sarah McCrory, director of the Goldsmiths Center of Contemporary Art, said. “His timing is shameful… I don’t know why he’s so out of touch and not very empathetic – maybe it’s because he’s become the mainstream.”

Aaron Angell, who runs Troy Town Pottery in London, agrees that Perry is out of touch with the reality of the impact of Covid-19.

“The people who lose their jobs are not the bunch of curators who kiss the cheeks, but the supervisors, educators and reception staff who exist to make the museum more accessible. They are there to make the public’s job a little more complicated than the words “hate speech” written on a teapot.

Perry’s jars are characterized by their ornate figurative decoration and pithy political and satirical slogans.

In 2008, Perry hosted an exhibition titled Unpopular Culture at Pavillon De La Warr, celebrating a time when “modern art was an even more rarefied activity, practiced and enjoyed by bohemians and otherworldly intellectuals.” Rosie Cooper, the curator of the art center today, said the art world is now very different, with great strides being made in the diversity of audiences and people working in the sector. The pandemic threatens this progress, however.

“The ‘decimation’ of culture has been hit hardest by precarious workers. As a result, many practitioners and artists will not be able to continue in their chosen careers without independent wealth. It will be a huge loss; these people are not “dead wood”. ”

Amid the fury, Andrew Renton, who teaches conservation at Goldsmiths College, called for a sense of solidarity in the sector. He agrees that the pandemic provides an opportunity to resupply, but also believes Perry’s point of view is fundamentally wrong. “This is an opportunity to reflect on what art could and should do urgently, now and in our early recovery, rather than evoking the grim prospect of survival of the fittest.


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