Etikettarkiv: Economic crisis

The Crisis Makes for Better Art, More Blunt Talk About Morals

We now treat Le Crisis as an old bad-mannered acquaintance; we rely on it for explanations of fallacies in the present and can rightfully curb our optimism and striving for a better future because of it. As I wrote in January the artworld is by and large avoiding addressing the crisis both since the artwolrd reacts with a certain time gap toward economic and political change and because individual artistic prosperity is never dependant on the larger turnings of the economy. We know Christes and Sothebys have done bad lately, but that does not affect artists and curators as much as it affects collectors and art advisers. Artistic value is at most times created as a reaction to an outside world which one cannot protect, change or revolutionize (Although, these three sets of values seem to be the most sought after by artists during the last decade).

keycrisiscover1929The great economist Amartya Sen writes the most affecting of all the analyses of the present economic turmoil in the New York Book review. He has focused much of his economic outlook in from the writings of economist Adam Smith, who also happened to be Chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University. Sen has written about this part of economic history in the brilliant On Ethics and Economics from 1991 (Read it!).

In his article he goes back to the moral philosopher once more:

While he [Adam Smith] wrote that ”prudence” was ”of all the virtues that which is most useful to the individual,” Adam Smith went on to argue that ”humanity, justice, generosity, and public spirit, are the qualities most useful to others.” Smith viewed markets and capital as doing good work within their own sphere, but first, they required support from other institutions—including public services such as schools—and values other than pure profit seeking, and second, they needed restraint and correction by still other institutions—e.g., well-devised financial regulations and state assistance to the poor—for preventing instability, inequity, and injustice.

Some pretty interesting points made during the 1700!

We can now observe that historically, capitalism did not emerge until new systems of law and economic practice started to protect property rights and created an economy based on ownership. We can now outline a capitalism that is built of institutional values, as long as these value do not deviate too much from the Real World (The Pirate Bay convictions yesterday is a good example of institutional property right far behind existing technologies and desires of the industrialized world.)

An interesting point of observation is made in the latest issue of KRO’s Konstnären Magazine by journalist Anders Mildner about the production of art in times of crisis. Stockholm gallery owner Magnus Karlsson asserts that the recession brings out more focus on the creative process instead of large-scale glossy art. Lars Vilks agrees when he states that commercially viable art by default is put of the meat wagon and the focus changes from the status of the object to the introspection of structures within the (art)world. Somehow this is commonplace knowledge but still important to explicate in order to tear down the wall of artistic autonomy being built up by the art market, and the fact that Magnus Karlsson comment on this is a good sign.

It is still really bad though, that Mildner finishes the article by muttering over the many answers he got from artists thet wanted to stay anonymous. This lack of openness and lucidity over the means and ends of art production makes me really sick and we should start campaining to get these issues more present in today’s art education all over the world. Because despite all leaps of faith that thousands of art students make each year before entering the market, Damien Hirsts f***** up proclamation during his 2 billion dollars auction in September 2008 says it all about the lack of history and transparency of the artworld: “The future looks great for everyone”.

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Economic crisis and the means of art production

Culture in the wake of the great depression economic crisis has by the media largely been cast aside, but the melt water is starting to run down throught the foundations of the big art institutions in the US as a recent survey by The Art Newspaper shows. It is the donations and endowments that are being cut, the most important part of funding of most American museums, in certain cases the cuts represent 20% of the total budget. Here in Sweden we have an almost total public backing of our art institutions, as well as considerably smaller budgets (compare the Moderna Museet: 15 million dollar to Minneapolis Institute of Art 193 million dollar) and thus the crisis is internally a mere word and attendance figures have paradoxically during 2008 been steadily rising. The real effects will rather be connected to indivudual artists that are self emplyoed and with no or very scarce capital to re-invest.

Book work by Robert The

Book work by Robert The

A discussion that must be brought to the surface at this time is how the big actors, both museums and galleries alike, will handle the economic deficit and how this deficit will translate to a cultural capital deficit. The LA County Museum of Art states to The Art Newspaper that the cut backs will made first and foremost on staff and travel. Extend this thought to include smaller artistic productions, longer working days and less international collaborations. If a staff of curators travel less and must spend more time on financial rescue missions instead of reading, writing and meeting with artists naturally the scope of the project they occasion will be of a less initiated kind than would otherwise.

The problem with this thought is readable already in this last sentence: art is not assumed to have crises in the inherent processes of production. it is rather construed as a shift of interest from lets say large scale film productions to drawing. Artists take what they can, it is assumed. This line o reasoning has no advocate among critics and theorists alike since the economic analysis is by and large non-existing in art criticism, thus the political analysis is basically reduced to a ”distribution of the sensible”, using theorist Jacques Ranciére, a way of negotiating the public sphere to include everyone and all. The notion that art can at times be steered into shaky and dangerous grounds due to the institutional redistribution of means of doing and thinking of art is a exactly the reason we have found ourselves in a non-functioning economy in the first place.

Critics please react economically!, and to Raphel Rubinstein: a big shout out!

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