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Between the Lines

I was astounded the other day when I read this article in the Times about Ghost Writing in the medical community. It seems that Postmodernism is everywhere. I know I sound like a paranoid freak, but wasn’t there a time when one was expected to author one’s own work? Weren’t we encouraged to come up with our own ideas, do our own research and come to our own conclusions? Instead there are now companies hired by corporations to write “drafts” that are then shown to experts who offer notes and approval. Once approved they are “authored” by the expert and shopped to various industry journals. A better example of outsourcing and appropriation I don’t think you’ll ever find.

“The court documents provide a detailed paper trail showing how Wyeth contracted with a medical communications company to outline articles, draft them and then solicit top physicians to sign their names, even though many of the doctors contributed little or no writing. The documents suggest the practice went well beyond the case of Wyeth and hormone therapy, involving numerous drugs from other pharmaceutical companies.”

It seems that when there’s money to be made and reputations to build a team effort is the best way to go about it, especially if the team involves a global corporate entity. These practices are alive and well in every industry that involves academic study and research. We have a similar culture in the art world as well, though it is quite a bit sillier. We’re not potentially endangering anyone’s lives, at least I hope not anyway. Though sometimes when looking at art it feels like a crime is being perpetrated.

Speaking of art world crimes, Hans Heiner Buhr recently commented on our post about Michael Kimmelman’s piece detailing how people look at art in museums, in this case the Louvre. Hans was there at about the same time, and took some pictures of himself and his wonderful family from behind the velvet ropes (well maybe not velvet) trying to get a gander at the Mona Lisa. It seems there’s a space about the size of a football pitch (OK I’m exaggerating) between the viewers and the painting itself, which remains behind glass and installed (great pretentious art word that) into a wall. Now I’ve read a few of the storied accounts of the history of this painting and its relative worth to the auction markets, but really, is it THAT much of a sacred cow? Hans suggested the best way the rank and file could see this painting is online and I think he’s right. In order to “see” the work we must see it as a dematerialized, uploaded program. So much for painting…

Finally, I have to say that the Rough Trade posts are proving just that – a rough trade. I am currently working through the final edit with the help of Henri and we’ll have one up shortly. This has been a difficult process all around and I ask your patience for a bit longer. Stay Tuned….

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