Michael Atavar talks about the ups and downs of his experience as artist-in-residence at The Guardian.
Michael Atavar defined his experience as artist-in-residence during Year of the Artist in 2000 at The Guardian as inconclusive: "In my work I create atmosphere, perfume, presence, being there ' but my experience is that business sees this as too erratic, too dangerous, too problematic and too worrying".
This is valuable in itself, and in all contexts. However, for businesses the experience of engaging with an artist can be erratic and problematic.
During the residency Michael Atavar was continually questioned about his reasons for wanting to work there. Why did he want to engage with business, when he is happy being an artist?
He is not convinced there is much common understanding between artists and business people: "The business environment doesn't completely understand artists and conversely we don't often fully understand the demands of business. It's great to get an artist into the building but what on earth do you do with them?"
Although Michael Atavar remains interested in working within business contexts, he feels that in future, he might not call himself an artist when working there. In that way, he would be able to link to other creative people in an organisation without generating hostility and competition.
It's particularly difficult for artists like him who do not make things and sell them in the art market who have other ways of working and other contexts in which they work.
A basic principle in the exchange between artist and business is equality and it can't be separated from the issue of value. As a result of his residency at The Guardian, Michael Atavar suggests some ways to create equality and value for artist's work:
- Pay artists equally to other professionals in the company.
- Insist the host (rather than public funds) pays the wages.
- Involve advocacy from outside.
- Call yourself a consultant you can charge more.
- Encourage business hosts to sustain the residency for at least a year
Edited from an essay by Michael Atavar in Ways of Working: Placing Artists in Business Contexts, a CD-ROM published by the Arts Council of England, 2002, and drawn from the transcript from his presentation for the 'Ways of Working' study day organised by the Arts Council of England's Collaborative Arts Unit.
Michael Atavar is an artist working with new technologies, making art specific to the worldwide web.
Work draws on the potential intimacy between user and screen. It slows down the pace to the speed of the heartbeat and runs contrary to the madness of the www by using the browser, not as a window of information, but as a landscape for the audience to get lost inside.
Work includes a four-page pull out in The Guardian in 2000 and a commission for BBC online. Digital work includes four walls (2003), iamme (2003), - - - - [four dashes] (2002), windows (2001), .sciis [sensitive cumulative intelligent immersive systems] (2001), ' [three dots] (2001), intimacy (2000), duolc (2000), thethingasitisTM (2000), ( : ) [sad/happy] (1999), snow paper scissors rain (1999), * * * * [four stars] (1998).
First published: a-n.co.uk April 2003
Post your comment
No one has commented on this article yet, why not be the first?
To post a comment you need to login
© the artist(s), writer(s), photographer(s) and a-n The Artists Information Company
All rights reserved.
Artists who are current subscribers to a-n may download or print this text for the limited purpose of use in their business or professional practice as artists.
Parts of this text may be reproduced either in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (updated) or with written permission of the publishers.