Last week I met up with my fellow Unidee-Cittadellarte alumni Jason Waite, who just finished his MA from Goldsmiths Art & Politics program where he focused on Art & Empathy. He is currently co-curating the 4th Young Artists’ Biennial in Bucharest that opens October 4th.

We visited the Whitechapel Gallery Art Book Fair and attended the talk ‘ Has Britain Still Got Talent? ‘ that aimed to shed light on questions such as ‘Did Britain reach an all-time art peak with the Young British Artists? What has the legacy of the YBAs been for young artists making work today? What defines young British artists of the 21st century?’ In the panel was YBA Mat Colinshaw and the post-YBA Barry Reigate, curator Cedar Lewisohn mediated by Patrica Ellis. Not much new was said but everyone seemed to agree that in the wake of the YBA’s it is challenging for young artists today to balance the commercial aspects and the private creative part of the art world. Barry Reigate emphasised on several occasions what he thought of as a wide spread anxiety for success among the pYBAs and compared the competitiveness to ‘ a hum that is always behind you that you have to deal with’. Matt Colinshaw added that competition is also something that ‘ as it’s best can inspire and challenge you to do better’ and further pointed out that it is a different more global world today than it was when he was fresh out of school. Not only has the media that played a large role in for the YBA’s changed now encompassing blogs and social networks. There is also not a clear defined ‘ British ‘ artist anymore since (maybe thanks to the success of the YBA’s) the UK has had a huge influx of foreign artists choosing it for education or as a base for working. On the account of recession and how it effects artist there seemed to be consensus among the panelists that it is to the benefit for less known or upcoming artist that create ‘cheaper’ and even suggesting that ‘Fat is Flat ‘ in regards to when too much money is floating around. Barry Reigate touched on ideas that a booming economy might lead to ‘apathy – everything is there, you can be anyone – anything – freedom is not always positive’ and that today in this specific recession that is different from previous ones ’Uncertainty is the only certainty’. This stance coming from persons in the art world that obviously have reached a place where they are clearly not starving seems like an odd mixture of patronizing and romanticizing the lives of the less fortunate fellow artists resembling a sort of uncomfortable ‘art world neo-colonialism’.

When curator Cedar Lewisohn was asked what advise he has for young artists today he pointed out that he was really ‘not the person to ask’ but added: ‘ Like your own work and make art for the future ‘ and suggested to the art audience not to give into or fall into the media hype or no hype of an art exhibition and to instead: ‘ Go see things without expectations, go see it – experience it ‘ Jason and I decided to do precisely that and went to see the exhibition upon which the talk was based ’ Newspeak: British Art Now, at the Saatchi Gallery ‘ and in the same spirit I will not link it nor give it a review. Go and see it yourself!

Barry Reigate, Patrica Ellis, Mat Colinshaw & Cedar Lewisohn

Jason Waite at the Whitechapel talk.