Traditionally, art galleries are, like local hairdressers, shuttered on a Monday. MARS Gallery is no different. However, I'm determined not to let PORNO's momentum falter even for a day. I am already planning on a second visit to Melbourne in about ten days to spend time with collectors and corporate curators. It has taken me a decade to learn the discipline and nuances of selling my art. It has only been in the last three or four years that I've assumed responsibility for it myself rather than hand it off to gallerists, as most artists do. I have been represented by some of the very best in Australia – John Buckley in Melbourne, Ray Hughes in Sydney – but I've never been convinced that a commercial gallery representing a large number of artists can, or will, give its utmost all the time to promoting each artist's work and reputation. Worse, I suspect that there's an inherent yet unremarked upon conflict of interest: it was starkly apparent at the Melbourne Art Fair that some galleries put a lot more effort into promoting themselves to collectors than the artists whose work they were representing. Indeed, there are gallery proprietors who are inclined to nurture their individual public personae more attentively than those of even their most famous artists.
The largest commercial galleries are also hide-bound traditionalists. They all have web sites – too many of which look like they've been designed for a merchant bank or a stockbroker rather than an art gallery – but very few of them understand Web 2.0 and its networking capabilities. They haven't the foggiest notion of how to use it to identify and develop individualised relationships (and dialogues) with potential and existing buyers. Hell, they feel happy with themselves if they manage to email an invite for an opening to a few hundred people. Not everyone is comfortable with managing the marketing and sales of their own work. Many prefer to leave it to intermediaries. More fool them. Just as musicians and writers are being forced to consider the rapid, revolutionary changes to publishing and distribution wrought by new media, younger visual artists need to re-evaluate their practices, especially in an environment where a reputation in one market can now be uploaded reasonably quickly to another using the ubiquity, instant access, and multi-tiered communications capability of the web and in which the full value of an individual artist's effort can be returned to them without the deduction of substantial commissions. You want to talk about artistic freedom? Start there.