Laura Gascoigne: It’s Not The Winning, It’s The Making Art – July 2017


month a new sort of museum opened in Sweden. The brainchild of psychologist Dr Samuel West, the Museum
of Failure in Helsinborg is an unnatural history museum of commercial


fossils, a google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; repository of innovative products that flopped. “The majority of

all innovation projects fail,”
its website announces cheerfully, before expressing the hope that showcasing “interesting innovation failures” will “provide visitors with a fascinating learning experience” – assuming people learn from

artists are serial failers and should, by any
normal reckoning, be in another line of business.

Unsurprisingly, the man who

would abolish America’s National Endowment for the google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; Arts understands the problem. According to the wisdom of Donald Trump, “A lot of people

​ don’t like to win. They actually don’t know how to win, and they don’t like to win because deep inside they don’t want to win”. One might not expect this level of perspicacity from Trump, but you don’t get to be the artist of the deal without a modicum of psychological acuity. In the case of the other sort of artist – the artist of the non-deal, if you like – a ‘lot of people’ means almost everyone.

What is wrong with artists? Or, looked at another way, what is right with them? Unlike the general population of downtrodden drudges who cling mindlessly to a belief in the survival of

the fittest, artists are highly adaptable creatures. Their work may be headed for the landfill fossil layer but they persist in looking on the bright side of


extinction. src="//"> It’s an attitude that, after the last financial crash, prompted a number of artist-led projects pointing out the plus side of failure. Kettle’s Yard led the way in June google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; 2009 with a one-day symposium ‘On not knowing: how artists think’, which examined “how artists formulate strategies of not knowing and use the

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states of ignorance,
doubt, block and failure within their decision-making process.” For those
whose decision-making back-up systems also failed, in 2010 the South London Gallery proposed a final solution of dumping their work in Michael Landy’s Art Bin and
becoming part of “a monument to creative failure” to be buried, with due ceremony,
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in a /* xin-1 */ landfill site.

This was too negative for


Manchester’s Cornerhouse, which came up with a more positive offer. Their 2010 exhibition Unrealised Potential, curated

For detailed process, you can “visit here” or contact

by the interestingly-named Mike Chavez-Dawson, presented a selection google_ad_height = 90; of artists’ unfulfilled proposals to gallery visitors and offered the rights to their realisation for sale. Whether any business resulted is unclear. Some
of the ideas were certainly appealing, though logistically challenging. The one I liked best was Simon
Paterson’s International
Heroes, a foreign exchange programme for

of google_ad_width = 970; the charm of the confirmed loser, and


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of artistic genius consists //--> in knowing how
to capitalise on it. If google_ad_width = 970; it hadn’t been for Giacometti’s endless admissions of failure the public would never have taken him to their
hearts. It’s not true that everybody loves a winner. It may seem like /* xin2 */ that while the champagne flows, but the truth (sorry Trump) is that losers are usually more likeable in their lifetimes and always more likeable after their deaths. If Van Gogh had
sold more than one painting

in his lifetime, would his personality hold


the same appeal for posterity? In life he was smelly, argumentative, wonky and drunken, the very definition

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