JohnyML, Editor-in-chief of Art Tehelka, in his first editorial for AT explains why there is a need for more online art journals.
‘Art Tehelka’ is yet another attempt to create an online journal for Indian contemporary art. In an industry where people talk day in and day out about the absence of capital or investment inflow, sustaining an art magazine online or in print form is a difficult task. While we have three art journals namely Art India Magazine, Take on Art and Art and Deal still trying to stick it out even in the most adverse economic situations, there is no justification for the absence of the online platforms that comparatively need less investment. As the former editor of a few online journals and a couple of print art journals, I can say for sure that lack of money to back up these has killed them literally. I have repeatedly come across this complaint that our writers are no longer interested to write about art. The fact is that the writers too need to survive in this world. The remuneration that a writer receives from art journals is phenomenally pathetic. If someone writes still and tries to get it published it would be out of sheer enthusiasm. Art Tehelka, in this context, can provide a platform for those writers who want to write on art without expecting anything other than readership.
Blogs and Facebook pages do help to circulate ideas, opinion, observations and images of works of art. Perhaps, today more artists and art lovers are connected through social networking sites than through print art journals. However, the validity and authenticity of the print journals still stand strong for their longer shelf value and comparatively and seemingly ‘better’ researched articles. That does not make the online platforms less authentic and less serious. The new motto that I want to propose is this: Once online always online. Once you have published your articles and images online they remain there forever. Pessimists amongst us say that one day these online publications without much copyright protection would be ‘copyrighted’ by some multinational corporate and for using it further even the author may need to beg for permission from some unknown copyright holders. Let us keep that horrifying scenario at bay for the time being and think about what we could do online without too much of financial investment. Those who really want to publish their articles and views on art, we welcome them all.
There has always been certain amount of materialistic disparities in the art scene. One may find capital pouring in certain quarters of art making and proliferating and some other areas are left completely high and dry. As capital does not come always through true democratic means, one has to really depend on private players who might turn benevolent at some stage of their lives and think of investing money in order to support online art writers. There is no scope of complaining even if capital is not coming by this way. But we have to do one thing: We have to write and publish. We have to keep the scene alive and we have to give face, voice and visibility to the artists who make art even when there is no money in the market. I am sure, whatever we have done earlier on online platforms and are planning to do now would become sources of research materials in future. When we initiate Art Tehelka, we believe that we are trying to make our times an illuminated one rather than leaving it dark and blurred for the future generations to dub us as dark age people.
Recently, an artist sent me a text message around eleven at night. It was a long message filled with pain and complaints. On that day, he had come to know about his termination from a reputed gallery in Delhi. He was asked to take away his remaining works from its stockroom. The gallery did not give him any explanation why he was removed from its list of artists after almost seven years. I thought the explanation was there in the very asking him to clear up. The gallery no longer wants to keep a dead weight on its shoulders. From the gallerist’s point of view the decision must be right. But we need to ask why an artist is unceremoniously terminated from the gallery list. Was it because he was not selling enough? Was it because his prices did not grow over a period of time? Was it because his works had become obsolete when seen against the new cutting edge art? Looking for an answer will take us to another crucial question: What is the job of a gallery? If a gallery fails to sell a set of listed artists, should the failure be reflected upon the artists or the gallery? In my opinion, the galleries should take up the responsibility. To take this responsibility, galleries should create a sound value adding literature/history/critique around their artists. For that they should support art writers and critical online platforms.
Art Tehelka offers insightful reviews, articles, essays, interviews and what is latest in art from all over our country. I welcome all to participate in this new venture. We assure you a present to change the future, which is in fact a gift.
Editor-in-chief, Art Tehelka
(Image Courtesy : Photographer Gireesh GV)