Creation of An Agency – “As Is”

By Michael Fox

I am an artist. I was attracted to the DSMBA program at the California College of Arts in my efforts to conceptually frame my artwork as a practice.  The DSMBA program has given me the opportunity to be creative utilizing the core values of innovation that are taught as my approach instead of remaining a manufacturer of goods; or in other words, a “starving artist” hording needless inventory, which represents the fluid, fictitious market value.  In the future people will have to take the reins and become leaders of their own career, instead of waiting for someone else to do it for them.   The DSMBA program aligns with what an artist’s goals should be – ideas and thoughts that are in themselves tangible forms.  The MBA is really the new MFA.[1]

Art schools ought to be platforms for free thinking and creativity without setting boundaries.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  There is potential to engage in education, in which giving away of ideas falls under the egis of a relationship established among an idea, the artist and the community at large.  By focusing on the context of a specific project, rather than pure outcome, the relationships established between the various people involved in it will be stronger and more effective in planning, organization and carrying it out.  The success involved with this kind of perspective should outweigh any risks of failure, and renders the experience worthwhile.

For many years, artists have been trying to restructure the traditional hierarchy between artist/teacher and students.  There has also been a struggle to break away from specialization, as students try to create a more multidisciplinary academic experience.  This is true in art schools, as well.  This was particularly strong four decades ago, resulting in the establishment of groups like, among others, the Artist Placement Group (1966) and the Free Open University (founded by Joseph Beuys in 1971).  The position of the artist is somewhat marginalized, and this is an occasion to take the artist outside of the institution, in order that the boundaries of what would signify visual art can effect change and engage creatively more freely.

In 2010, an agency called “As Is,” is being launched.  “As Is” will be a think-tank of ideas and projects conceived by one individual but will give these ideas away to projects curated by other parties.  The ideas and projects will become commoditized intellectual property that is shared openly and willingly.  The types of projects will vary and not be limited to installations and events only.  They will be designed for site-specific locations.  The concept recalls the notion that home is inside the self, and inside the other, and the potential for multilateral relations with other creative industries is at the heart of the agency.

The name of the agency, “As Is,” is an index, signifying the paradox between the openness of creating a group of talent that work together for the purpose of initiating intercultural dialogue and exchange through art, and the complexity in the actual realization of such an undertaking.

It is all about taking risks and moving forward, and as the art critic Julian Stallabrass rightfully said: “The art world would be a much healthier scene if people would be prepared to stick their necks out.”[2]

[1] Daniel Pink. Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. (Berkeley: Penguin Publishing, 2006)

[2]Richard Marshall, 3am Interview: The Artist as Marxist. 3am Magazine, 2004, Web, 24.10.2009,

These articles were created as part of the course work for “Live Exchange” the foundational course on communication for The MBA Design Strategy Program at California College of the Arts. Read more about the project here.

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