The Florence Biennale:
Analysis of an Invitation to Exhibit
An artist recently contacted me about an email he received-- a letter of acceptance and offer to exhibit at the Florence Biennale. I asked him to forward the email in order to have a look. Below is the text of that email, followed by an analysis of its content with observations and suggestions on how to research and evaluate this and any similar offers that you as an artist might receive.
TEXT OF THE FLORENCE BIENNALE EMAIL:
BIENNALE INTERNAZIONALE DELL' ARTE CONTEMPORANEA
Firenze - Fortezza da
Basso - 3/11 december 2011
We would like to invite you to exhibit your artwork in the next edition of the Florence Biennale. After reviewing your artwork present in internet, the Internal Committee has expressed favourable opinion for your participation. The seventh edition of the Biennale will be held from 3 to 11 December 2011.
Marian Abramovic and Shu Yong in 2009, Gilbert & George in 2007, Christo and Jeanne-Claude and Richard Anuskiewicz in 2007 and David Hockney in 2003 were awarded with the maximum recognition, the Lorenzo il Magnifico award for their career. The Biennale attracted an impressive number of enthusiasts, artists and visitors. Each day of the seventh edition was studded with collateral events and conferences, such as that of Gregorio Luke, Former Director of the MOLAA at Long Beach, among others that can be seen in our website www.florencebiennale.org
The exhibition doesn't receive any public neither private financial assistance. The exhibition is entirely funded by artists, that can search for sponsors independently in their own country. To those possible sponsors indicated by artists, Arte Studio will provide to send a formal request. Sponsors will be published both in the general catalogue and the website, as you can see by visiting the sponsor's page present in our website, that helped some artists in the past biennales.
You will find all the necessary information in the participation documents that we will send you, to the address you will send us to the following address firstname.lastname@example.org (email address and contact information have been removed).
Internal Committee of the Biennale
ANALYSIS OF THE EMAIL WITH RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. The email does not address the artist by name. Since the email clearly states that the artist's work has been reviewed, why is the artist not addressed by name?
2. The email has numerous grammatical errors and one of the honored artist's names is misspelled-- unusual for a correspondence coming from an international exhibition.
3. The email states that an "Internal Committee has expressed favourable opinion" for the artist's participation. The email does not state what the "Internal Committee" is, who serves on it, how they are chosen, what their qualifications are to jury art and artists, how they select artists, and what their criteria for review and selection might be.
4. The email states that the artist's work has been looked at on the Internet. The email does not state what specific websites or pages were looked at, and which examples of the artist's art were examined and evaluated.
5. Nowhere in the email are any specific accomplishments of the artist mentioned. Nowhere in the email are any specific reasons given for why the artist has been asked to participate.
6. At the end of the invitation, the artist is asked to email his address in order to receive "the participation documents." This seems to suggest that the senders of the email have no contact information for the artist other than the artist's email-- which doesn't make much sense considering that the "Internal Committee" has already reviewed the artist's work online. Or is this simply a mass emailing? Could very well be. (I was able to find the artist's full street address and phone number after only a minute or two of searching online.)
7. Taking the phrase "were awarded with the maximum recognition" from the acceptance email, placing quotes around it as shown, and then searching it on Google, reveals that the Florence Biennale has been sending out the same basic email for years. You can see a portion of that identical email excerpted here in artist Robert Bissett's newsletter dated October 27, 2006.
8. The email makes clear that "the exhibition is entirely funded by artists," meaning that the artists pay to show their art.
9. On the Florence Biennale website, it is not at all easy to find information about costs for artists to exhibit. Neither is it easy to find information indicating that artists pay to exhibit. An intrepid artist did manage to find the 2011 Biennale cost information here. According to that link, the cost to exhibit a maximum of 3 artworks is approximately $3773 for the 2011 Biennale. This is in addition to travel, accommodations, food, transportation, shipping costs, etc... all of which are borne by the artist.
10. All artist participants in past fairs are listed on the Florence Biennale website. It would be highly recommended for any artist considering participating in this exhibition to contact at least ten artists who have previously participated and find out not only how much they enjoyed the fair, but also their total expenses, how much money they made, and what other benefits they accrued from their experiences.
11. An excellent measure of the success of any art fair or exhibition is the percentage of repeat exhibitors. I tallied and compared the exhibiting artists listed under the letters "A" and "B" for the years 2007 and 2009 to see how many who showed in 2007 returned to exhibit in 2009. Of the 128 artists who exhibited in 2007, only two returned in 2009.
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