Why is Occupy Wall Street Protesting NYC Museums, and Not Super Rich Galleries and Art Fairs?

Karen Archey

I originally wrote this blog entry in October 2011 for “Image Conscious,” my now defunct ARTINFO blog. ARTINFO had contacted me in December 2010 about writing a blog for them, uncompensated. Having recently been laid off from a retail job and newly receiving unemployment benefits, I decided to accept the offer in hope of future employment or compensation. After fielding catchy, pun-based name blog name ideas from ARTINFO’s executive editor over the course of two months, I finally approved the title “Image Conscious,” a name that probably didn’t perfectly suit a woman art critic in her mid-20s who was trying to be taken seriously by mostly older, male colleagues.

I decided to cease publication of “Image Conscious” in July 2012 for two reasons: first, I hadn’t received any form of compensation from ARTINFO for providing the site with content for over 18 months, and second, editorially, the target consumer of the website seemed to switch from the common art news reader to the art mega-collector. I quickly realized that the benefits of the large readership of the website didn’t eclipse the fact that I had been hypocritically penning content critical of the art market for a publication targeting patrons of this and other luxury economies. In fact, Louise Blouin Media, ARTINFO’s parent company, was receiving advertising revenue from the traffic partially obtained by my free labor, paid for by various luxury brands. It was time to go.

Karen Archey is a curator and art critic based in New York and the 2012-2013 Curator-in-Residence at Abrons Arts Center. Her writing regularly appears in Rhizome, Spike Art Quarterly, Art-Agenda, Kaleidoscope, Modern Painters, and LEAP, where she maintains a bilingual Chinese/English column introducing the work of emerging Western artists to Chinese audiences. She recently launched exhibitions at Joe Sheftel, New York and Wilkinson, London; and will judge the art and technology prize “Push Your Art” at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris in Spring 2013.