Chapter 49: EXCLUSIVE ASSASSINATION: Buck Naked, Owner of How’s My Dealing? Blog
Partial screenshot of “How’s My Dealing” blog using Screengrab!, moderated by Buck Naked. Courtesy of Buck Naked.
Conceptual artist Buck Naked decided to open up a simple and rather function blog called “How’s My Dealing?” His or her stated purpose was, “Artists: Please share your postiive/negative experiences with critics, curators, and galleries. Comments from those with direct experience only, please.” From that straightforward request, Buck Naked’s blog began to explode to the point where it was described by Paddy Johnson, moderator of Art F– City in the following excerpt from her 2008 interview with Hrag Vartanian as follows:
“HV: Do you have a guilty pleasure online that is related to the art world? Mine for instance is bad student videos on YouTube.
PJ: Mine is How’s My Dealing, a blog that rates dealers, curators and critics by their reputation and solicits comments from artists on their experience.
HV: Do you check it daily?
PJ: Oh no, it’s impossible to read five million multicolored updates at the top of the blog, none of them with links. It’s pretty annoying but then every once in a while a gallerist will answer claims that they’ve been unfair and it gets really juicy.” (“Art F– in the City, IMing with Paddy Johnson,” Art21 Blog; October 3rd, 2008)
Apparently with this sort of props that Buck Naked’s initial experiment, the blog began to run wild with craziness. Gallerists who saw their reputations on the line began to attack their ex-artists with a polite viciousness that many would have thought that the blog was a record of a divorce court case. Things were flying around like insults and often dirty gossip inked with the core of truth but not UFO’s. It was scary to see how quickly the staff at Freight + Volume shot back responses to a disgruntled “artist” or suspected rival gallery owner. We may never know the actual truth. “How’s My Dealing?” could be the equivalent of The X-Files for the contemporary art world.
Even more enigmatic was the man or woman behind it all called Buck Naked. I decided to try my luck to be the first person to interview this brilliant person who decided to open up a can of well-needed worms and the fascinating responses I received were similar to Zen koans, full of pithy truths like haiku. Out of respect for the privacy of the legendary figure, I decided to leave out the contact information. So here are the details for this exclusive “assassination”:
qi peng: How did the idea for the “How’s My Dealing?” blog come about? Was it in response to a disgruntled artist’s complaint? Knowing that many art professionals consult with the blog everyday like a drug fix to check their reputation, in what ways do you feel that the website is a resource for those who are interesting in buying art or finding gallery representation?
Buck Naked: The blog was created as an art piece.
I did not expect that the site would catch on with collectors, and am happy that it has. The blog will be auctioned when I am finished with it.
qi peng: Once, a few people got you mixed up with New York artist William Powhida. What would be possible reasons for this mix-up? What do you think about art that criticize the way that the art market functions?
Buck Naked: William Powhida has a reputation for institutional critique within the commercial New York art world.
qi peng: What is the most controversial event that your blog got involved in? Do you feel that artists use this blog before they attempt to look for gallery representation? What advice do you have for budding artists who graduate recently from BFA or MFA programs? Would you advise artists that it would be better to be tangled up with a bad contract with a problematic gallery director rather than lose the opportunity to exhibit at a New York venue?
Buck Naked: a. ?
b. No. I don’t know.
c. Take care of your teeth.
d. No answer. Each individual needs to decide what is best for themselves.
qi peng: What accounts for the dishonesty of art dealers in today’s world? Do you think that the economic recession will have a positive effect on art ethics as collectors and curators focus more on the spiritual and cultural value of the artwork rather than its monetary value? What trends are you seeing within the New York area, particularly the Chelsea and Lower East Side and Brooklyn areas?
Buck Naked: a. I don’t know, and would not like to generalize that art dealers are dishonest.
b. I have no idea.
c. Smiley faces.
qi peng: Do you ever fear the revenge that art galleries might take against your blog or you if you were revealed? I do admit that I admire your bold step in making the contemporary art world more democratic in its process and force more art dealers to act transparently. Why is the art world so secretive in its background dealings?
Buck Naked: a. No.
b. Can’t answer briefly. Too many things.
qi peng: What is the dirtiest strategy that you have seen a gallery director do to gain a particular advantage? How was it effective or ineffective for the long term?
Buck Naked: Nothing particular comes to mind.
qi peng: What is your opinion about artists’ cooperative galleries such as Pleiades Gallery and others which offer artists the power to control how their artwork is being handled and marketed? Why are those types of galleries not reviewed in the major art magazines? Why are art reviews based heavily on how much the gallery advertises within the issue?
Buck Naked: a. They are fine.
b. I don’t know. Maybe because they don’t do much advertising, or the shows are not interesting enough?
qi peng: Are there any art conspiracy theories or stories which are worth sharing with the public? What are some of the spiciest stories that you have overheard within the art world?
Buck Naked: [no answer]
qi peng: What is the point of reviewing curators or art critics? Would this be considered a postmodern notion of the idea “Who will watch the watchmen?”
Buck Naked: It is sharing information and experiences, not reviewing.
qi peng: Have you ever attended an art fair? What was the experience like? In terms of rating art fairs, which aspects do you look for? How do you think that art fairs have changed the way that exhibits are curated and artworks are presented?
Buck Naked: a. Yes.
b. Fun. Lots of art, lots of people.
c. Good art, people I would like to meet or hang out with.
qi peng: What direction do you hope to take the “How’s My Dealing?” blog into for the future? Do you find that Blogger is a good hosting website to feature a straightforward tool that people can use?
Buck Naked: I am satisfied with Blogger.
qi peng: How do you want artists to use “How’s My Dealing?” blog for their own career development? What is your moderating style and how do you determine which comments are problematic and not worth featuring?
Buck Naked: a. I don’t want anything in that regard. Do what you want with it.
b. Comments that include insults to a person’s appearance or personal life (with no relevance to professional life) do not get published. Opinions are not wanted. HMD wants facts and first-hand accounts. But some random opinions are too well written and funny not to post (Joao Ribas thread comes to mind). Comments posted are not reflective of my own opinions or experiences.
qi peng: Why do some galleries get a lot more responses and even responses from the gallery owners themselves such as 303 Gallery, ATM Gallery, Bellwether Gallery, Cheim & Read, Claire Oliver Gallery, Deitch Projects, Envoy Gallery, Freight + Volume, Feature, Jack the Pelican Presents, Lisa Cooley, Lehmann Maupin, Leo Koenig, Inc., Mary Boone Gallery, Maccarone Gallery, Michael Steinberg Fine Art, Moti Hasson Gallery, Roebling Hall, RARE, Taxter & Spengemann, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Winkleman Gallery, and Zach Feuer Gallery than other ones in the area? When artists personally e-mail you their comments or post their comments online, do you feel that this forum could be a way of leading into corrective actions for past wrongs? Do you see that this blog is a court of justice in some ways?
Buck Naked: Yes.
qi peng: With the “deathwatch” feature on your blog, how is this a barometer for what goes on within the New York art world? Are you seeing any trends in whether the mass closure of Chelsea galleries will lead to new galleries in other areas of New York City such as the Lower East Side or Brooklyn? Will there is a cultural resurgence in art that takes more risk rather than cater to people looking for mere eye candy?
Buck Naked: [no answer]
qi peng: Would you like to share any gossip, scoop, or cool stuff with blog readers or fans of how art dealers must behave?
Buck Naked: [no answer]
And by the way, it’s definite that Buck Naked isn’t William Powhida either ways. And for those who think that the answers were a bit concise, that is the way it’s going to have to be. Buck Naked isn’t going to cover things up.