I won’t deign to call it a “big year for art” – we must assume that every year is a big year for art and artists and the people that support them. Maybe I could go as far as pointing at the plethora of internet art that has eked out into the real world, the nationwide debate and fall-out of arts cuts in the UK, and the extraordinary case of “the disappeared” artist Ai Weiwei and the world’s ensuing uproar.
Special mention of course to the aformentioned Ai Weiwei, his worldwide exhibitions (with and without his whereabouts known) were a cementing accomplishment, and the unprecedented solidarity from all corners reminded us of the power of art for political good. Kudos too to Mike Guppy, one of The Graduates 2011 and statistically the most read article of the year on It’s Nice That (the term “viral” was never so apt) and finally the multifarious Jayson Scott Musson whose alter-ego Hennesey Youngman (or is it the other way around?) has astonished, delighted and educated us in equal measure.
A real highlight of our latest issue of the It’s Nice That magazine is an article about the American contemporary artist and photographer, Taryn Simon. Her body of referentially deep work, informed by first-hand accounts and detective-style insight, are a weighty antidote to the superficial search engine sources that pass for an education these days. A very bright star from this year’s constellation of exhibitions, hers is a field of intelligent, frequently disturbing mirrors on society, and that is why we love her.
Of everything we saw at Frieze this year, Michael Landy and his fantastic mechanical decimator of credit (pause. If only) cards was our true favourite. Always with a wry eye on the value of value (see last year’s Art Bin ), this year saw him continue to engage with the public in a humorous and climatically astute way, overcoming people’s fear of number one, “art” and number two, each other. His Acts of Kindness project this year in the London Underground is a prime example of how it can be less about art as an object, and more about inspiring people to think in a certain way after coming into contact with it.
Not only is Tacita Dean’s monolithic Film installation resident in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern – an awe inspiring 16mm homage, projected analog-style – but _Edwin_her moving documentary of the late Cy Twombly (which played alongside an exhibition of Twombly and Nicolas Poussin at the Dulwich Picture Gallery this year) was a humbling and extraordinary example of her dedication to film as a medium for art. Since her move into the forefront of the art world, she has brought with her some big questions about the demise of essential facilities and support for artists working today, which can only be a good thing.