There’s not much difference between curating an exhibition and curating the contents of a closet – at least this is what many people seem to think these days. Not that we’re averse to connecting art and fashion (although we’ve tried, for many years, and failed), but what we’re witnessing at the moment is not about connecting art and fashion, it is about making art and the whole art world a more fashionable affair than it actually is. At the moment it’s just a funny thing to watch, but it might become a dangerous thing. The art world needs to maintain a certain amount of unattractiveness in order to remain attractive.
Since going to gallery openings, art fairs and biennales has become just as chic as having a roster of artist friends and hanging out at the art world’s favorite watering holes, it is only natural that the “art lovers’ look” has become more chic as well. But the art world crowd has not become more beautiful, or more intelligent, or more interesting. Gallery openings and museums are considered the perfect pick-up-environment by many – by people who have no art world experience, that is (however, this assumption is a much nicer one than the equally false assumption held previously that people interested in art are physically unattractive). These days, people outside the art world seem to think it has become an incredibly sexy and exciting place. Or else, why would a TV show named “Gallery Girls” exist, where girls wanting to become art world members intern at “galleries” no-one has ever heard of where they “curate” “shows” and go through the hardest times “tackling the cutthroat environment of the art world”? Real art world people love “Gallery Girls”, because it gives them an idea of how the non-art world imagines the art world to be – watching the show feels a bit like being mistaken for a famous person.
Another interesting example of highlighting the art world’s fashionable side but in a different way is the blog “Babes at the Museum” (BATM), that shows – the blog’s name is not misleading – photos of mostly female people at museums. Many look like normal people with an average interest in fashion, some of them even sport looks that would be slated by any decent streetstyle blog, and why are they called “babes”, and why would any girl equipped with a brain to go with her boobs volunteer to be called one? (Don’t get us wrong, we’re not on a feminist mission here, and we love boobs, and other body parts – actually one of the best posts on the blog is a photo of four girls mooning in front of Regnault’s Three Graces).
BATM-Blogger Xavier Aaronson defines the term “babes” as follows: “They’re boys, they’re girls, and they don’t necessarily have to be gorgeous. A babe is someone with a subtle flair and discreet beauty that is uncommon at bars and clubs, and remains camouflaged in museum settings. BATM sets out to uncover and capture those babes.“
Whatever. We have to admit we are intrigued by the photos. To our eyes these babes are relational aesthetics – to analyze and contextualize the correlation of elements in a composition (of babe and art work) is something an eye trained to view art is practically forced to do. But BATM is not art. It is not about art either, it is about the perception of the art world. It has received an impressive amount of press coverage, even Huffington Post has reported on BATM, and it is vividly discussed and shared on fashion blogs, Facebook and the likes. The entire world seems to think that the art world is a really cool and pretty place – with one exception: the art world.