Shotgun Review

Reflections on How Things Work, Part 1

By Aimee Le Duc January 28, 2010

Aimee Le Duc’s essay, “How Things Work, Part 1,” combined personal reflection, critical analysis, and investigative research to look closely at some of the systemic problems Bay Area non-profit visual arts organizations currently face.  It also reflected how, as we try to expand the critical discourse around artistic practices in the Bay Area, we consider what forms that discourse might take.  By interweaving personal experience with critical reflection, she opened up the conventions that govern such writing (while adhering to facts and veracity in her statements), so that the text may truly segue into dialogue. In doing, she encourages those equally invested in this community the opportunity to speak candidly—whether on the record or not—about the issues that impact all of us. -PM

My essay, which appeared in Art Practical Issue 5, was the result of months of research, interviews, and reflection on my personal experience with the non-profit art spaces in San Francisco. The overall goal of the piece was to critically examine the model by which many of these organizations currently and



originally incorporated their operations. By looking at New Langton Arts’ closing, and the current state of other arts spaces where I have worked, I strived to create a site for exchange and dialogue about the role these spaces have played in the San Francisco visual art community. What value do these spaces have for artists, arts workers, and arts audiences? How can those who participate in them articulate the successes and grave concerns facing them?

By utilizing both my personal experiences and listening to the insight of other people involved in these organizations, I started constructing a discursive framework around the state of the non-profit arts spaces in San Francisco. I agreed to not cite my interview subjects, who would not have spoken freely with me about their own experiences and reflections otherwise. As a writer and arts worker, I feel I can speak very openly about my history with this community, but I also respect the decisions of others to not be publically cited in this essay. In the coming months I will continue this series of essays by exploring the Bay Area arts community, as well as the funding mechanisms that are, and ought to be, in place as we barrel into an uncertain, but certainly familiar, economic future.

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