Although I’ve been keeping a low profile in the public debates about Wikipedia Art, I have had a few ongoing and private discussions with its critics and supporters. With his OK, the below is an excerpt from an email I wrote to Tom Moody yesterday.
The main issue for me is not whether I (or others) like or dislike … the Wiki [(I actually think it an extremely valuable resource)], to game or not game the systems that contribute to it, and certainly not to canonize myself – you’ll note that other than our own page and my own blog, I have not at all participated in any of the discussions about the project (not on wikipedia, not on rhizome [another rhizome thread here], not on Paddy’s blog, etc). I care not about the rejection of the page, really; or even if you call it “art,” as Paddy suggests. I think the debates still have contextual value, even outside of the art space. People care about this: about art, about Wikipedia, about the blogosphere, about the conceptual frames and important people (whether of self-import or otherwise) that “control” these spaces through their online voices or backend deletions. The idea that this page got any less or more fairness or discussion than any other Wiki page is not my own – I’ve seen many debates just like this one spearheaded by just as many folks at the Wiki – I feel lucky that [Wikipedia Art] got this much attention; a real failure would have been a speedy delete, and then nothing, which we always knew was a possible outcome. The point is, most people don’t see how arbitrarily many of these decisions are made, or where biases lie, despite the fact that, as you say, in the “post Gallery [post academy?] world Wikipedia is the new Academy, because it has the ability to control the discourse of who is an important artist (or art blogger)” [and more!]. A bunch of volunteers, of their own free will, cared enough to do all this, a bunch of artists and theorists care enough to carry on the debate. Paddy is right, perhaps “the discussion is my art” means I always “win” – but this project, art or not, is not about winning for me. And nor is Wikipedia, and nor is the art blogosphere.
I’m glad the [debate] carries on, because even if Wikipedia Art is not at all important, it has provoked a discussion around what is.