Nordan Art - Dramatic End Before it Began

Yesterday I was so swamped with IM about the Nordan drama that I had to log out. I decided therefore, to post what happened the last days at Nordan. Especially when a friend asked me: "Is William Weaver an asshole?", I felt it was high time for clarification as far as I can do from my side.

It must have been around September when the art world in SL heard good news about the reopening of Nordan Art, which disappeared suddenly and unexpected at the beginning of 2012 and has been missed since then. Flora Nordenskiold, owner and curator has chosen William Weaver (paperwork Resident) as builder of the new gallery.

I met William first in July last year, was immediately hooked by the outstanding quality of his SL photography and was lucky enough to have him as one of the two artists in my very first exhibition as curator at Art India Gallery. We became immediately friends. He is a humble, extremely talented person of outstanding generosity. He always gave support, advise (if requested) and his works for free. Many of you should know, that the Firestorm Phototools has been written by him. To me, his enormous productivity seems to be driven by a lot of passion and love for others and Second Life. He never took any money.

But back to the case. From beginning of October until end of December William worked day and night at the Nordan buildings. Not only to build. A lot of consideration has been included too. Regularly he talked to me and sent me invitations to see and discuss the progress of the work as he did with other friends. The whole assemble of buildings has been placed and built based on mathematical principles, the textures has been chosen carefully and William built everything for the best visitors experience, considering the camera position and avatar movement in SL, and, and, and...

At the beginning we discussed as well the function of a gallery in Second Life. I made him aware of the ongoing discussion about the necessity of virtual walls, the role of 3D art and immersion. But William and most of his closest friends are 2D artists in SL and with the progress of the builds I saw that they are solely meant for 2D art and maybe small sculptures. Honestly I was a bit surprised that the whole sim has been covered with structures in a way that would not allow larger 3D installations. But the arrangement of builds has been so genius,  so breathtaking, that I was simply fascinated.

The next surprise to me was the announcement of the scheduled opening on January 12. (yesterday) with a artist line up of 2D and 3D artists. William took a break from SL for a while. The last months of building has been exhausting for him and the logged back last Thursday to see the already placed works, besides one artist who did not show up. William sent me an IM that he was shocked and extremely unhappy with the installed art, especially the works of one artist and asked me to come. We went through the exhibtion and he said: "I have not built this place for works like that." I spent many hours with him, making him aware of the needs of the other artists and to find a way of compromising for him. Honestly, I suspect that the invited 3D artists hasn't been happy either with the places they found to show up. At the end William calmed down and planned to contact the owner and curator Flora to find a compromise about the works of one special artist and accepting the rest.

The next day I logged in and got immediately a TP to Nordan by William. I found him and his team making a decision. I was told that William's doubts not only has not been heard, upon on that another 3D artist had been invited to replace the one who did not appear and worked already, covering the whole walls (don't get me wrong, I looove the works of this artist a lot and I know, that the art needs a special surrounding.). To William this was another hurting disrespect of his vision and he was on the way to take the Breakwave Building down. The team prepared a statement for the worst case, which I copy for you here:

The Breakwave Building

"Hello everyone, we hope this message finds you all well.

In the past few days, after a brief break from Second Life William returned to find preparations at the Nordan sim for the upcoming opening to take place on Saturday January 12.

While looking around the whole sim, we have noticed the work being set up for this event, and in many cases, it is our opinion that the work displayed does not suit the objective with which the builds were made. This is the case more than any other with the Breakwave Building, this build relies greatly on its layout and the textures which where carefully chosen and placed around it.

In what we have been able to see, we have noticed not only a lack of cohesion with the work displayed in the build, but also set ups where the build itself and its textures are covered so it would be the same to have them in any other structure.

It is for the reasons previously displayed, as well as others, that after careful consideration we have made the decision to remove this build from the sim, we apologize for the inconveniences this might create for those involved, and we can assure you we mean no personal offense to anyone with these actions.

Best regards to all,

paperwork team"

Btw., the team is, besides William Weaver, Lo (dolliehaze Residen)t, Thalia Heckroth and Petra Messioptra.

William logged out, exhausted, deeply hurted and sad, but authorized his team to find a solution that could be suitable for all. He was still open to compromise. As I already said, he is a very humble person. The team started to link and pack the Breakwave Building when Flora appeared and sent all back, the builds and the art. As far as I was told by his team, she was not open to talk. The Nordan blog is deleted.

The Breakwave Building
 So far to the facts.

What is the function of a built gallery in Second Life? Please spare me the talk, if virtual concrete walls are needed or not. That has been discussed often and is not the subject here, because in this case the decision has been made to have them. If you decide to have a structure as gallery, there are two ways of function: Either as shelf which should be covered to give the art the needed environment or you create a space to embrace the art. As I already mentioned, yesterday I was wrapped up in discussions about the case as soon as I logged in and I heard too: "Who cares about the gallery, it is the art that counts." I highly disagree with that point of view. The often ugly and cheap looking galleries are a pain for me and an insulting of the displayed art to my opinion.

Lets talk now about the role of a curator. A curator has the job to create a vision of an exhibition  make a choice of artists that would fit and to inspire the chosen artists to share and follow this vision. In the progress of the work, the curator has to make sure giving the artists a working space that enables them to work without conflicting with the others. And from that perspective the dramatic end of Nordan Art before it really began, is clearly a curator's mistake. I don't know about the curator's vision, but I saw that William Weaver had a strong vision of an ensemble of buildings for contemporary art as a RL model. It does not count if you, dear reader, or me are sharing this vision. It only counts that the curator let an artist following it for months and violated it then with the chosen displaying artists, which made those probably unhappy too and brought all in a unpleasant situation.

It is so sad, because I wished that all of you had the chance to see the buildings which are simply breathtaking. I hope, that one day they will be displayed again together with works, the structures has been meant for. And I hope too, that all artists find soon other places for their works.

The worse off all is that William Weaver decided to leave SL and as far as I heard, Flora Nordenskiold too. That is a great loss and I hope that both rethink it, when they calmed down after this disaster. Both are still needed and would be very much missed!

The photos are taken by me, but if you want to see really good photos of the builds, visit William's Flickr.

Taxi: No taxi today :(


Anonymous said...

What a bullshit Quan. We all know Flora Nordenskiold is a egocentric bitch who is only in SL to get herself all the credits for the artists she enslaves. And that William Weaver is a dumbo first class to be as arrogant to create buildings in which artists have to "fit in". Artists in SL for once and for all don't need the following: Curators and galleries. They just need space! When William Weaver wants to be a great architect he can always apply for the rebuilding of the Guggenheim in NY. Architects in SL are useless because one function is missing in a virtual world, an avatar doesn't have to live in a building, nor needs a kitchen, nor needs a bed. Stupid!!!!!!

Kandinsky said...

I suppose in this case William Weavers buildings are the art or considered by him as the art. Otherwise I see no reason in this.
Then THEY should maybe be exposed as art, at a space probably otherwise empty, for everyone to see.

Unknown said...

I don't know Flora, and I only know William tangentially, but he seems to be a dedicated guy, and certainly a dedicated artist.
This blog post is all I really know about the problem, and one thing that isn't clear to me is what the problem was with the art. Was William saying the choice of the art was not of high enough quality for his build? Or not suitable due to its style?
In both cases (unless the build contract also made him chief curator) he is wrong. It's just not his choice what goes in the buildings.
Sifting saveme's rhetoric, there is a point there. The art is what is important, not the building. Though a nice, well-designed space does contribute to the feel of a place and may attract visitors, it shouldn't take precedence over the art inside.
And if he was saying the work wasn't up to standard; well, I hope that wasn't the case, because that's doubly wrong. I can respect William as an artist and I like some of his work, but I by no means like all of it. He probably says the same of my work. But unless one of us is curating the other's show, we have no right to say where it should be shown, by whom, or what pieces. Even if the selected artists were beginners still feeling their way (and aren't we all?), someone has to give them a chance.

Kara Trapdoor said...

Another sad situation in the art world. Personally I enjoy the art and the gallery if the build is exceptional as I expect this one was. I would expect it to be a ongoing problem though for artists/curators to try to "fit" art whether 3D or 2D to a specific standard or design for a building. Hopefully this will get worked out in time.

Rowan Derryth said...

Dramatic exit, stage left!

Quan, thanks for this. I don't know either of these people, but I'm not impressed by what I've heard of Flora by the artists who have tried to work with her. That phrase you and I have talked about - 'I think I'll be a curator today!' - comes to mind.

That said, so many RL museums are now designed by rock star architects - Frank Ghery, Zaha Hadid, Richard Meier - to what effect? Gorgeous buildings that are works of art themselves, full of glass or curved walls (sometimes both) and dead, useless spaces. The site becomes more about the architecture than the art, and that totally defeats the purpose.

So while I love the idea of the integrity of the vision, and I certainly think there is a place for virtual architecture, I also think that there is a function to a gallery (that is, for art that is APPROPRIATE for gallery spaces), and the architecture should serve that, not its own self-aggrandising mission. I'd love to see William Weavers spaces, and I'd love to see him curate his own vision. But I think in this case it sounds like there wasn't appropriate communication from the Curator (quelle surprise), coupled with perhaps a misguided perspective of the architect, and it all fell apart.

Unknown said...

Rowan, you hit the nail on the head when you said, "it sounds like there wasn't appropriate communication from the Curator (quelle surprise), coupled with perhaps a misguided perspective of the architect, and it all fell apart."

Being perhaps one of the very few 2D artist who didn't know this was going on until 30 minutes before show time.. I was quite dissappointed in both of them.

Stephen Venkman

Apmel said...

How boring! Where is the sex angle?

Whiskey Monday said...

... buries her head back in the sand ...

Rose said...

You have just missed it)

Anonymous said...


Ush Underwood

Cat Boccaccio said...

Savemeoh: "...an avatar doesn't have to live in a building, nor needs a kitchen, nor needs a bed."

The sex angle: if you don't have a bed in SL, surely you need a kitchen?