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The Boom is Over. Long Live the Art!

Last year Artforum magazine, one of the country’s leading contemporary art monthlies, felt as fat as a phone book, with issues running to 500 pages, most of them gallery advertisements. The current issue has just over 200 pages. Many ads have disappeared.

The contemporary art market, with its abiding reputation for foggy deals and puffy values, is a vulnerable organism, traditionally hit early and hard by economic malaise. That’s what’s happening now. Sales are vaporizing. Careers are leaking air. Chelsea rents are due. The boom that was is no more.

Small Business as Artistic Medium

We are running a small business—a café and social center called Backstory, on the south side of Chicago. A substantial monetary investment was made at the outset and subsequent cash infusions have been necessary since. Hours upon hours of unpaid labor have been poured into the effort. Creative energies have been diverted from other projects into the resource stream of this enterprise. Family dynamics have shifted to create space for this new occupation. Other life paths have gone untraveled. How do we value each of these contributions and sacrifices? How do we appraise the worth we gain through our involvement in Backstory?


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