April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

Interactions: Description

Creating Communities by Sharing Contemporary Art

Adam Simon, Fine Art Adoption Network, USA

The Fine Art Adoption Network is an online project of mine, sponsored by Art in General in Manhattan. The architect and web master is John Weir. We launched FAAN in April 2006. Artists post images of works they are willing to offer for adoption and choose from among the potential adopters that email them through the site. The only costs to the adopter are whatever is required to transfer the work.

The goal of FAAN is to help increase and diversify the population of art owners and to offer artists new means for engaging their audience. Artists have to be invited to post their work on FAAN, either by an already participating artist or by a collaborating institution. So far there are eight collaborating institutions in this country. We hope to add institutions in other countries in the near future.

I originally thought about the Fine Art Adoption Network in terms of simple pragmatics, supply and demand. There is a surplus of art and a scarcity of collectors in this country. Even successful artists often produce a lot more work in their lifetimes than they exhibit or sell. Meanwhile, most people interested in art tend not to own much original art. Instead, they experience art by visiting galleries and museums or through reproductions, and each of these structures shapes the experience in particular ways.

The art market is one of the few markets where supply is not dictated by demand. Artists continue to make art whether or not they are able to sell it. Meanwhile the market depends on an artificially created notion of scarcity of good art. The notion of rarity that the market requires depends on a small number of artists being selected from a large pool. Partly because of this, the art market can only accommodate a fraction of the art objects that are being produced. The market does a terrible job of putting art into a lot of homes.

Adoptions are taking place, artworks are finding homes in unlikely locations. A fifth grade class in New Brunswick, Canada adopted Matt Friedman's, Lost Puppy, a site-specific work made for FAAN, as well as Perry Bard's 'Zone', a sculptural proposal for peace in Korea. A policeman in training adopted Cathy Quinlan's drawing of a head of the Madonna, after Duccio. The other day I heard from Carrie Waldman that her billboard format painting, an enormous, slightly pop view of daises in a field, had been picked up by a couple from a small town in northern New York state to be installed on the outside of their building facing the town diner where farmers have their morning coffee.

A series of interactions are being initiated by the existence and exposure of the artworks on FAAN. These interactions are multi-faceted and personal. Adopters are convincing artists by telling them what the artworks mean to them. The art world is small but the world reached by the internet is huge. The internet opens up the possibility of reaching entirely new audiences, of finding the ideal recipient for any particular artwork, of tapping into a new population of art collectors; ones without a lot of disposable income.

Mini-Workshop: Creating Communities by Sharing Contemporary Art [Contributed Content]

Keywords: user-generated content, web-based art, contemporary art