Did the relationship sour or was the deal always bad?

The comment section of an Instagram post published by The Brick (née LAXART) last week.

031 — Choosing evil. Interpersonal occupational hazards. An emotional week for white men.

DISPASSION is a newsletter about art, digital media, and emotional detachment produced by ‌NOR RESEARCH STUDIO.



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Every so often a post will find its way to the arts job listings that we feel an ethical obligation to shoot down. The Xela Institute of Art has a troubled history, but one that is difficult to discern unless you know that its proprietor Alex Alexander is actually Sonce LeRoux, daughter of abstract expressionist painter Amaranth Erenhalt and the former proprietor of Sonce Alexander Gallery, which had its last show in 2016. The listing is filled with classic flags, like promises of a potential promotion to assistant director and more work once grants are secured, but also the “Kunsthalle” taking its name from Alex spelled backwards. Obviously, the money is bad, too.


Walker Museum Art Museum sued in wake of breastfeeding debacle. Paintings returned to family of gallerist exploited during Nazi occupation. Beloved exhibition space repens with questionable rebrand. Native curator takes Blackhawks to court. Disgraced art dealer flees Los Angeles. Collector who lost conservative state senate ticket still has political views. New white male impunity standard established


In the essay below, Wyatt Coday reflects on a botched client relationship. Thinking through clout and its relationship to institutional whiteness, they examine how white cultural workers are given credit for work they extract from their peers and why they feel entitled to such appropriations.

The comment section of an Instagram post published by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles last week.

Last weekend I saw an Instagram post that advertised a panel event where a former client of mine would present about their work. The panel was hosted at one of the most prestigious, wealthiest universities in the world and my former client was among a handful of guest speakers invited to talk about existing models of financial support for working artistsa topic that is clearly important to me

It made sense that they had been invited, but it also made me question the motivation behind the event and the research involved in assembling it. Of the panelists invited, my former client was the only white person. If you were to ask them, they would readily admit they have the least expertise on the topic among the speakers even if they do have unique experience with fundraising. I would even suggest that being a non-expert is a significant component of their angle and their appeal to whiteness. They speak for the overwhelmed and confused, which I have appreciated at times and found troublesome at others. 

My ambivalence toward this former client’s non-expertise has much to do with their anxiety about race, class, and social capital, which is why the post caught my attention. Trying to discern what irked me about their appearance at the gig, I realized that anyone who hasn’t worked with this person might see the list of clouted institutions they’ve partnered with and logically but mistakenly assume they were a veteran fundraiser with social savvy and a background in quantitative research. 

An uninformed party might see the line-up of speakers and assume, too, that this former client had the same capacity to discuss the economic power dynamics that affect working artists as the remaining speakers, who all had projects that were explicitly informed by class-based identities as well as significant institutional partnerships that involved legitimate public policy research and advocacy. In other words, the remaining participants were actual experts. 

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