8 Years of Temporary Art Review

Each March we mark our founding by reflecting on our previous years as we continue to experiment with our form in order to push forward discussions on artist-led action and the latent potential it carries to transform our art worlds, our institutions, our means of expression and ourselves. Over the last eight years we have made our argument in multiple forms: in essays and interviews, reviews and futures, convenings and panels, notes, outside organizing, and books. What we’ve argued for is clear: an art after capitalism, a prefigurative force possible within artists organizing independently from or as institutions, and publishing as an act of public making, simultaneously documenting and creating new possibilities.

Temporary Art Review, in its form, focus, and scale, is unprecedented as a project centered on the precarious and profound terrain of artists’ organizations, independent spaces, and artist-led initiatives. Back in March 2011 when we launched the publication for the $1.99 it cost to purchase the domain, there was no Common Field Convening, not even the first Hand-in-Glove conference, and few platforms attempting to map this far-reaching field that accounts for the majority of most arts organizing in our time. More importantly, this moment pre-dated Occupy, Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter and a myriad of other social and political advancements and actions. The world has changed profusely in the last eight years, yet we’ve connected artist communities distant from art centers from New Orleans to Yemen from our twinned home bases in St. Louis and Berlin in over 800 articles by over 300 contributors. We’ve experimented with new means of criticism, of exchange, and of ownership in our post-digital, post-recessionary age in which there is still no currently workable form for independent arts publishing.

This attempt – itself a self-organized experiment led by Sarrita Hunn and James McAnally, and supported by The Luminary – has managed to reach hundreds of thousands of readers, with an average bootstrap budget of just a few thousand dollars per year. We did this work largely unpaid, while committing to pay contributors in proportion to much larger platforms. Yet, we also acknowledge that for many, this was a larger platform. To our knowledge, there has never been such a far-reaching, sustained publication focused solely on artist spaces. Temporary as a project has had a profound impact for the field to think about itself, as well as to evolve the language around art centers and ‘off-centers’. Temporary has sustained a nuanced argument of what it means to fully acknowledge the reality that most art being made in the world is created outside of places like New York, Los Angeles, and London, and most artwork is shown, seen, and circulated through informal artist networks rather than commercial galleries and museums. This approach, we hope, has inspired other publications and projects embracing this foundational view: one that, we believe, should reshape the language, structures, and actions of what we call the art world into something more decentered, diasporic, ground-up, ethical, and inclusive.

As of March 2019, Temporary Art Review will cease publishing on it’s currently existing online platform although it will remain an archival stage from which we will move into an experimental, anticipatory hiatus, as we continue our mission while forming new multiple modes. In tune with our publisher The Luminary, we aim to review and revise how we engage our publishing, online and otherwise, and, as in all of our work, remain oriented towards another (art) world and view our vocation to define the terms, tactics, and contours for moving forward within this con-temporary condition.

Temporary’s initial vision to connect disparate geographies and artist-centric practices nationally (and, later, internationally) will be carried forward through independent projects, collaborations, and coalitions doing the work of not just documenting but organizing these practices. Foremost among these partners include Artist-Run Alliance, with whom we are serving in an advisory role to create a new publishing platform inspired by our archives, and Common Field, of which we are founding members and frequent collaborators. Through The Luminary, we will begin a stage of archiving not only our own work, but the work of artist spaces around the globe through a new library and research platform. We encourage artist spaces and projects (currently open or already shuttered) to begin sharing flyers, papers, posters, notes, and more for inclusion into this archive. (More information to come on that initiative, but for those interested, email james@theluminaryarts.com.)

In pausing our active publication for this season, we wish to make space for new voices and other expansions. Beyond our own initiatives such as The Luminary’s multifaceted platform for art, thought, and action, we hope to see like-minded publishers such as Arts.Black, The Rib, 60 Inches from the Center, Chicago Artist Writers, The Third Rail, Art Practical, The Chart, Burnaway, MOMUS, and numerous others sustain and expand. We hope a host of other voices emerge to institute, publish, and make public divergent works. It has been a privilege to share this space of vision and dissent, connection and convening across eight years. With you as contributors and readers, we have formed a collective research group, the tendrils of which are unpredictable and unending, spread across a million individual encounters and the slower work of conversation and experimentation we’ve cultivated in person and online. Our online archives and our fifth-year anthology, To Make a Public (a limited number of which are still available from INCA Press), become more precious in their precariousness and we hope you hold them close. They are primary documents of our moment and notes towards another world we continue to aim to make happen.

This moment was written into our identity from the outset. We, and the work we engaged, are Temporary – of and with our time – as ephemeral as many of the practices we documented, and active even in its absence. It is time for other urgent forms and we collectively await what emerges from this transitional season. As we work with the archive of the site in numerous forms over the next year, we will keep in contact as we launch other related projects emerging out of Temporary’s foundational vision. We anticipate celebrating again this time next year by publishing a new print journal, alongside other various collaborations and gatherings.

What we hope we enter this season with is an active act of futuring. We will be quietly building new platforms, reimagining the place of publication in the present, and continuing to connect with many of you. We hope you also join with us in imagining what could be next, whether that is with us, or in your own spheres. One of our most urgent charges is to build new institutions suited to our time – that is the work that won’t wait. Let us continue to do that work together.

Sarrita Hunn and James McAnally, founders and editors
Temporary Art Review, April 2019

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