What did we learn in Seven Days…?

One of the first things plopped on my desk when I started at TIAF a bit more than a month ago was an invite to the Vancouver Gallery Hop presented by CASV this past weekend. Amongst a series of informative and interactive talks given at various art galleries in Vancouver it also featured a lecture by author Sarah Thornton on the topic of her latest book Seven Days in the Art World.

Upon seeing the flyer (and noting that I already had obligations on the Saturday in question) I immediately bought the book. I thought, if nothing else it could be a very handy read for a neophyte like me. Since then I’ve been eagerly awaiting reviews of her book and appearances.

Canadian Art reviewed the book and interviewed the author at the beginning of the month. But more recently, art editor and writer Leah Sandals blogged about her Toronto appearance which sounds like it was a rocky reception.

And what does a neophyte (like me) think of Seven Days? I enjoyed it. I found it in turns interesting and informative, challenging and over-simplified, fantastical and believeable, and at all times a book. By that I mean that, without detracting from the accomplishment of a best-selling ethnography, something I learned as a student of anthropology was to always be critical of your source. Just because something appears in black-and-white type (likewise things that appear on television or Facebook) doesn’t make it true. And something I learned in publishing is that — no matter what the subject matter, no matter who the author — books are put into print for a singular reason: to sell. So if it seems a little larger than life or a touch more glittery than the art world you know, with measures of too much simplicity, ego, or ass-hattery…that’s because it is. And my guess is that they’re the same reasons you bought and read the book too.

NB: There is definitely more to come from me on this book. There were lots of sections (ironically, ones predominantly focused on the economy of the art world) that I think will make great starting points for discussion.

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