Since its premiere in 2008, Contemporary Art Daily (CAD) has become one of the most popular online resources for what’s hot in international exhibitions. Founded by the Chicago based artist/critic Forrest Nash, CAD posts documentation from seven to eleven international exhibitions of contemporary art a week. Nash is joined by InCUBATE’s Bryce Dwyer, Julius Caesar’s Maddie Reyna and Forever and Always’ Brook Sinkinson Withrow.
CAD’s postings notably lack a critical position—free of commentary and support text. This has led to questions as to what degree CAD operates as a journalistic enterprise, providing a survey of international art on a given week, and to what degree its selections are motivated by a curatorial impetus. In a conversation with Newcity Art, managing editor Dwyer elucidated on the group’s process and provided insights as to its mission.
“It’s actually more curatorial than it maybe appears on the surface,” says Dwyer. CAD considers several hundred exhibitions monthly, selecting approximately forty for publication. The discussion of an exhibition’s merits are peppered by each staffers unique background, with an emphasis on cohesion and continuity. CAD’s selections call attention to whole exhibitions rather than individual works of art. “‘Exhibition-making’ seems to be a pretty important mode of artistic expression at the moment,” says Dwyer, “Ten years ago you couldn’t see every exhibition that an artist ever had without doing extensive archival research but now you can, and so that opens up a different way for people to diversify a practice, or make a practice richer over time.”
The team’s more individual interests crop up on their “Office Notebook” blog portion of the influential website, updated regularly by staff and intended to personalize the CAD operation—in Dwyer’s words, to show that “we’re people and not just an algorithm.” Flowers, a recurring series on the blog, documents the personalized arrangements of special guests and employees. Curiously, these often elegant selections of brightly colored but minimal bouquets photographed on a stark white ground recall the pervasive aesthetic attributed to the platform in last summer’s Artforum. Citing CAD, critic Michael Sanchez provocatively claimed that the web-based viewing experience has spurred a generation of art making optimized for reception at the level of documentation, specifically as it is mediated by the screen.
CAD is certainly the most visible of Contemporary Art Group’s web-based projects, but they are expanding into Contemporary Art Venues, the group’s public register of sponsored exhibition spaces, and the forthcoming Contemporary Art Quarterly. Releasing “four archives of four artists four times a year,” CAQ will compile a robust online archive of primary source-material documenting the whole of the artists’ public activity. Two years in the making, the Contemporary Art Group hopes to unveil this in-depth counterpart to Contemporary Art Daily by the end of the year.
To some readers, Contemporary Art Daily and platforms like it represent a move away from the printed page. Indeed, the blog’s thin textual support constitutes a departure from the written arts advocacy of, say, this biweekly paper. Assuming CAD serves to do more than simply satiate our thirst for scrollable images, readers may marvel at the greatly widened scope of aesthetic experiences its postings facilitate. (Collin Pressler)