Francesca Gavin's 100 New Artists

As Dazed & Confused's Visual Arts editor prepares to launch her latest book, we talk to her about interactive artforms and the role of 'isms' and Internet in art today

P191 Jayson Scott Musson Hitler 2008

Our very own Visual Arts editor, Francesca Gavin, is releasing 100 New Artists, a book which seeks to explore the aesthetics of tomorrow’s art world by presenting a series of artists that are currently making waves in the contemporary art scene. The book skates across the globe, to include a variety of painters, sculptures and performance work - from underground Berlin artists that include Özlem Altin and Sven Johne to new installation artists in Tokyo, like Teppei Kaneuji. We spoke to Francesca to discover whats in store for the art of tomorrow…  

Dazed Digital: In relation to the quote on the front of the book, do you feel that the various schools of 'isms' restrict an artist's identity? Can you tell us more about this idea?
Francesca Gavin:
Its just a very old fashioned way of looking at art – one that perhaps is linked to Utopian ideas at the heart modernism or the 20th century. No one wants to be pigeonholed. That’s just an easy way to brand a product and I like when art questions those kind of ideas. When artists were creating Surrealism or Futurism there was a collective approach and political motivation from the start for example - a desire to break from the past, create a new world.

We don’t live in those times anymore. I mention Adam Curtis’ ‘Century of the Self’ documentaries in the introduction and his argument that in recent years the focus has been much more on the individual looking inward. I think that can apply to art that resonates today too.

DD: How did you work to define a 'new' artist?
Francesca Gavin:
It’s a really difficult word and it took me ages to think how I’d define it. In this case I was looking for artists under 35 – it seemed to be this cusp age where people became established and accepted if they had been working for a while (though obviously there are many exceptions). I look at art every day so I was really trying to get people I felt were pushing aesthetic references, mediums, approaches. Something that felt different.

DD: Was there anything in particular you looked for or avoided?
Francesca Gavin:
I looked for art that felt like it punched me in the stomach or whispered in my ear. I avoided having too many artists working in one medium. I included no more than 10 from any country and tried to keep things very international – from Indonesia to Iran to Mexico.

DD: Do you have any favourites?
Francesca Gavin:
Tonnes. It’s an ever-changing list depending on what I’m interested in at that time. I’m a massive fan of Eli Cortinas’s film works, the humour of Jack Strange, Jayson Musson and Dionisis Kavilleratos and the cultural references of Rashid Johnson and Ioana Nemes.

DD: How do you see the international art world changing in the next few years?
Francesca Gavin:
Assuming the world will last beyond 2012? I hate the constant focus in the media on economics when people talk about art so I’d rather focus on content. I think that the artists who are utilizing technological references will start being much more accepted in the wider art world. Installation is becoming something the general public is increasingly fascinated by.

The idea of art moving just beyond the object but becoming a theatrical space, something you can enter into and interact with. I’ve noticed a lot of artists building spaces around their objects not just sticking things in an empty room.

DD: How did you work to represent the artists in the book?
Francesca Gavin:
I interviewed all 100 artists and printed question and answer discussions with them. I think it is always fascinating hearing what an artist’s intentions are rather than a writer pontificating about their opinion… It makes more sense when it is something thematically based but my aim in writing about art is to make people included, interested, want to discover more. I think that format is so much more accessible and involving.

DD: Do you feel as though social networking limits or broadens an artist's horizon? How can they utilise this staggeringly popular media?
Francesca Gavin:
I don’t know if twitter or facebook or google+ - so social networks - really have much impact or importance when it comes to making art. I think there are rare moments – the London riots being the most obvious recent one – when social networks became a place for serious discussion. It’s a rare and fascinating thing when that happens. Status updates about hangovers don’t really broaden anyone’s minds. I’m yet to see those spaces be used beyond a space to invite people to upcoming shows.

However I think the internet in a wider sense has been incredibly influential – things are being seen by such a wide audience. The internet has become a kind of 24-7 exhibition space. Artist websites can be a fusion of a self-portrait, portfolio and solo show. Young galleries are having much more exposure.

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