I realized on Tuesday that I’m a big hypocrite. I’ve been curating THROW for four years now. During those four years, I have asked artists to get focused about what they want from an audience. I have challenged them to take ownership of their goals and pose questions to an audience that actively test the success of those goals. I have encouraged them to sit bravely in the driver’s seats of their projects, even when they’d rather sit nervously to the side and give someone else the wheel – just to be sure they are headed in the right direction.
I have been nudging, pushing, sometimes bullying artists to take charge and ask the questions, so that they may stay in control of their goals. Input and feedback are important, but the person-in-charge should define the parameters. And, all this while, I’ve been doing just the opposite when responding to inquiries from prospective participants. Instead of asking specific questions of these proposed participants to ensure that their goals are in line with THROW’s goals, I’ve asked them to simply “tell me a little bit about what you want to develop.”
This hasn’t been a disastrous approach, but it hasn’t been the most productive. And, as resources become more and more scarce, artists are more likely to spin any opportunity into the one they are looking for, regardless of the intended structure – just as an undirected audience discussion will often become a soapbox for a particularly gregarious audience member.
So, next year, in order to better test the success or failure of my goals for the series, I need to develop and ask specific questions of interested artists. The trick will be to find the right questions that will be useful to me and interesting for the artists – rather than just another ridiculous hurdle between artists and opportunities.