What Happened To The Old ARTERI?
Astute readers will have noticed that although we carry the same name, the content and logo of the new ARTERI (arteri.com.my) differs from the original (arterimalaysia.com*). ARTERI’s founding mother, visual artist Sharon Chin, talks about her the original site’s triumphs, hardships and rebirth.
“The more a thing can be repurposed, rebooted, and reused, the more it seems to me an indication of its resilience and robustness in these, our uncertain times.”
ARTERI started because I didn’t get a job I was promised at an institutional gallery. It was either do something, or get depressed. So I called my friend Simon, who came over, and that evening we set up a blog together on WordPress. My then-housemate suggested the name ARTERI.
We’d be criticised for it later. ‘ARTERI’ implied that we wanted to be the lifeblood of the art scene, I was told. As one senior artist said to me: ‘Cut off an artery and everything dies.’ Maybe we should have called ourselves the AMOEBA-3 (Eva joined us shortly after we went online) – then we’d just be three blobs of life, no more, no less; three single-cell organisms floating in a larger ecosystem.
We didn’t have much of a plan, just strong opinions, a desire to write, and an unorganized approach to almost everything, from editorial decisions, to comments policy, to financial viability. For a long time I believed that the anarchic spirit that birthed ARTERI was also the reason why it couldn’t sustain itself.
But now I think that it was the deviation from this spirit that caused us to fail. Eventually, we applied for, and received, a grant from Balai Seni Lukis Negara (now Balai Seni Visual Negara). With it came increased legitimacy, responsibility, and a sense of duty and obligation. We wrote less and started thinking more about ad revenue. The monthly hit count mattered more than building a community of loyal readers. We spent more hours trying to figure out ARTERI’s vision and mission than we did actually constructing it, one imperfect blogpost or problematic review at a time.
I’ve thought a lot over the years about what it means to be legitimate. What is it if not a quest for influence and recognition? The trouble is that we confuse this with being ‘practical’ or having a business plan (both of which are necessary, and highly recommended). In the end, ARTERI was just a blog by a visual artist and two curators. All that is useful today came from the unruly energy we generated in our own lives, multiplied by our contributors and readers. To be legit is to be important, and that means to be weighty. To give up legitimacy is to disregard the ownership of energy, so that it can re-enter the system, circulate, multiply, and be continuous.
Our critics were wrong, and we were wrong to believe them. ARTERI never wanted to be the lifeblood of the art scene, it was just our contribution to it – three drops at least.
Today I learned that there are over twenty arteries in the human body. Nothing gives me more joy than to see ARTERI take on new owners and new life.** The more a thing can be repurposed, rebooted, and reused, the more it seems to me an indication of its resilience and robustness in these, our uncertain times. One artery connects to another, significant only in as much as it belongs to the larger system. Fuck legitimacy. Long live continuity.
NOTE: *ARTERI was handed over to MyPAA in late 2015 with the agreement that it would be relaunched as a completely new project, while the original archive of articles will be preserved and made available to the public. Work on the archive will commence in September 2016. No money was exchanged in the transfer.
Thanks Simon and Eva (find their take on the new ARTERI here) for collaborating on the original ARTERI, and to our readers/supporters/contributors who made it worthwhile. Thanks to Balai Seni Visual Negara. Much appreciation to Rogue Art and Southeast Asian Art Resource Channel (SEArch) for hosting an archive of the original site under their ‘Lost Files’ section at http://arteri.search-art.asia/
Sharon Chin is an artist and writer living in Port Dickson. She has exhibited locally and abroad, most recently at Singapore Biennale 2013 and the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial in Queensland, Australia in 2015. At the moment she is working on stuff that combines illustration and journalism. www.sharonchin.com