Conflicts of Interests page:
The DKS List

"You who quarrel with the arrangements of society, and are willing to embroil all, and risk the indisputable good that exists, for the chance of better, live, move, and have your being in this, and your deeds contradict your words every day. For as you cannot jump from the ground without using the resistance of the ground, nor put out the boat to sea, without shoving from the shore, nor attain liberty without rejecting obligation, so you are under the necessity of using the Actual order of things, in order to disuse it; to live by it, whilst you wish to take away its life."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Conservative (Boston, 1841)

Conflicts of Interests is my new DKS research initiative to explores questions of complicity. These questions have been New York art world news lately, but have frequently been explored by scholars in business ethics, anthropology, history, sociology, and literary studies before, although always briefly, and in passing, rather than as a structuring concept in their work. Departing from this tendency, this initiative insteads to explore this theme as a central concern both to art institutions and its cultural participants.  My contribution consists of my interviews, listings, position papers, essays and everything I collect or post online on this, The Douglas Kelley Show List site. Your contributions, the readers and the users of the DKS, will be in the form of a blog like Fag Art City, where you can register your comments and opinions, rants and raves about shows, institutions, and the mistakes and conflicts of this list? it might not have any actual effect upon the service of the DKS, but it is a step in the right direction towards greater transparency. I want to set it up with a proxy server so that people can make their attacks, and insider news leaks with reasonable assurance that they can't be traced back to

The importance of disclosing conflicts of interests is well understood in most legal and managerial contexts -- institutions are encouraged today to focus on transparency and to suppress situations that pose a threat to the integrity of an institution or to the constituent members of its greater community. It's not so well understood in the art world. However, I seek to situate these concerns instead in relation to the arts and academia, fields which view the possibility of fully disclosing one's entanglements with skepticism and consider it reductive to define conflicts of interest solely in financial terms. The DKS has chosen to highlight the issues relevant to our interest in art even as they implicate ourselves, our colleagues and contemporaries and we can identify with them -- with the hope that these cultural institutions can more fully enact the so-called radical social change they aspire to by more fully acknowledging our own social and political entanglements. This project thus begins and archive archive of questions facing the cultural landscape in general, but also The DKS's own considerations of complicity -- an issue that on a daily basis practically and theoretically implicates our activities as well.

The question, then, I pose to us, and our art colleagues, and members of the academic, critical, and cultural institutional landscape is: How can we really depart from the existing social system or the relations of power in which we always seemed to get implicated? from the forms or practices that always seem to remain more or less in place that ineffectively fail to balance the inequities? What would it mean to evade power, to skirt it, to crawl under at or climb over it, or flank around it, to escape its force or vigilant hegemony? Under the shadow of these questions, our most serious responsibility is to identify and evaluate which aspects of our behavior are the most dubious as regards our the overt complexity of our sometimes conflicted entanglements that are the most dangerous to the integrity of our pursuits and relationships, so that together, we may seek to at least triy to mitigate, negotiate and diminish them. And as we identified we can sort them into a hierarchy of values that best describe what we don't want to do?

The problem remains, as many critics, and casual observers, have; noted, observed, complained and cautioned about -- conflicts of interests, can paradoxically, be most productive. Broadly defined, they are endemic to the museums, foundations, nonprofits and gallery spaces in ways this project will identify. And in the sense that I participate marginally in this convoluted web of artistic interrelationships, these conflicts can be considered not just as complicities entangling existing structures, but the list's participation as part of the enabling framework. Here, I can follow Emerson's modest suggestion of what is possible for those who, registering the near inevitability of political complicity, nevertheless sometimes would like to diminish it out of fairness:

"If I suddenly plant our foot, and say, -- I will neither eat nor drink nor Iar nor touch any food or fabric which I do not know to be innocent, or deal with any person whose whole manner of life is not clear and rational, I shall stand still. Whose is so? Not mine; not thine; not his. But I think I must clear ourselves each one by the interrogation, whether I have earned our bread to-day by the hearty contribution of our energies to the common benefit? and I must not cease to tend to the correction of these flagrant wrongs, by laying one stone aright every day." (Man The Reformer, 1841)

  Douglas Ward Kelley