Letter From The Editors—Issue Four: VALUE
Check out VALUE, the latest issue of Sixty Inches From Center.
What does the term “value” mean to you? Certainly, it is a polarizing and loaded concept, one that raises numerous questions surrounding the means by which individuals and the collective art world ascribe worth/significance/capital to ideas and objects. Valuation can take the form of public recognition, critique, or compensation. It can also represent an artist’s convictions, displaying exactly what he or she considers to be most important in their work.
Working artists will be familiar with the longstanding complication of assessing a monetary value for goods and services. And, as most artists can likely attest, the capital gain is often not enough to make ends meet. Fiscal value, then, is probably not the driving force behind the majority of artistic endeavors. That being said, what is the driving force that compels creatives to produce something that will inevitably have a value attached to it?
One could argue that the principal motivating factor that inspires artists to continue moving forward is the satisfaction and self-worth that result from a healthy artistic practice. As evidenced in our last issue though, the gatekeepers can sometimes be the ones whose standards for value trump or supersede those of the smaller fish in the pond, raising the question: “Whose evaluation matters most?” The wonderful, but also damaging, thing about valuation in the art world is that artists are free to determine exactly what is most significant to them. The value that you attach to your craft, practice, and sensibilities does not always have to be marginalized by outside opinions… if you do not allow them to do so.
In Sixty Inches From Center’s fourth issue, a variety of Chicagoans weigh in on this topic through video, interviews, panel discussions, and letters. Jennifer Patiño Cervantes speaks with Amie Sell about a recent group exhibition, investigating the effects of gentrification in Logan Square and discussing the valuation ramifications on both residential and arts communities. Oscar Solis sits down with a group of artists/administrators to talk about the confluence of arts criticism and the philosophy of art in an attempt to locate and dissect concepts of objective / subjective value. Felicia Holman interviews with local performance artists shows how they identify and balance both the fiscal and emotional value in each individual’s sustainable art practice. Recognizing the significance of old, forgotten art history VHS tapes, Mario Contreras creates additional layers of value through the re-presentation of that footage in a new context. Wisdom Baty‘s letter to Johnson Publishing Company, regarding the company’s plans to auction off the Ebony archives, attempts to dissuade the company from selling the archive, arguing for the importance of public access over capital value. And On The Real showcases a video focusing on a recent body of work by Imani Amos that addresses the project’s inquiry into the value attached to African American men, engaging the tenuous divide between concepts of self-worth and societal perception.
Reuben Westmaas and Toby zur Loye, Editors, Sixty Inches From Center
Image: “Error 409: Conflict” created for the upcoming post-issue epilogue for VALUE, by Tempestt Hazel.