Claire Oliver shuts out photographers


Barry and I had decided to stop by receptions at only two or possibly three galleries last night. At one point during the evening a friend of ours asked if we had seen the show at Claire Oliver. He had liked work by the artists (AES+F) he had seen elsewhere earlier this year. We told him we hadn't been there. I wasn't even aware there was an opening at Claire Oliver, mostly* because the gallery doesn't usually show work that would attract us, and when it comes to receptions (only), we usually end up going to those where we know the artist, the gallerist or where we expect to know some of the crowd (even then, a return visit is usually necessary to see the art itself).

Not long after our conversation with our friend we realized we were passing by Claire Oliver's space on the way to our next stop so we decided to check it out. A minute or two after entering the front door we were in a room on the lower level watching a video. It seemed to us it would be the nucleus of the show's photographic images upstairs, so we had decided to start there. Seconds after I snapped a still image of the projection with my camera a gentleman stepped up to me, from I'm not sure where, to inform me that photography was not permitted. I turned around and we both went back upstairs. There I handed my card to the two women at the desk and asked them to give it to the director informing she or he that I was an enthusiastic fan of the arts, and a committed art blogger, but I had no interest in visiting, broadcasting or reviewing shows where photography was prohibited to anyone.

If this post is more strongly worded than most of my art entries, it's because it's not about a particular artist (collaborative) or a particular gallery, but because I feel very strongly about ensuring and increasing the public's access and enlarging its connection to art, and issues involving cameras and photography are very much a part of this discussion and my activism. It's always about control, just as it is when the controllers are outside the white box.

Claire Oliver has been added to a list of galleries whose shows I will neither discuss on this site, nor visit personally, because they maintain camera prohibitions. Shows will also not be recorded in ArtCal if the editors know there is a camera prohibition. There are some galleries which maintain prohibitions that are selective or vague, making avoidance more complicated and imperfect, but leaving the principle and its effect no less crucial. This list is subject to change, and above all we will welcome news which will enable us to remove names.

This is the annotated list at the moment:

303 Gallery (one show)
Gagosian (one show)
Capla Kesting
Jonathan LeVine
Pace on West 22nd Street
Paul Kasmin (vague)
Claire Oliver

Only once has the gallery's name ever shown up on either of our blogs before. The story of our experience then might help account for our shared lack of enthusiasm for Claire Oliver. Oddly, it has a connection (almost certainly a coincidence) with last night's incident. Nearly four years ago we found ourselves in the gallery's old space on 20th Street during an earlier show by the same artists. This is from Barry's post on December 7, 2003:

On 20th Street we tried to see AES+F's King of the Forest at Claire Oliver, but I didn't feel like spending much time with the work, given the reception from the gallery guy working there. We had come in from the snow to check out the show, and given that it's a highly conceptual show, it seemed reasonable to ask to see the press release or checklist. His response? "Sorry, my friend. The show's coming down today, and we've given out all of the materials." Ugh. No wonder sometimes people want to go into galleries and say, "Oy, shopgirl!"