This question inspired me two part of response.

In the past, some have tried to take radical positions against art market like conceptual artists with “unsaleable” immaterial works, or (suposed to be) “un-buyable” works like artist shit, but all those experiences were made into the art field which is not outside of the global capitalist system.

Thanks to those experiences, we now know that this system is able to integrate absolutely everything, the critic even more. Trying to make the art world changes without trying to change the whole thing is for me unconceivable ((even if I know this is no small matter.))

I think that we now have new kind of positions which are no longer envisaged within a system of binary oppositions (artist or curator, gallery or offspace, private or public). I relate them to the kind of “potlach” you are speaking about in Network Culture when you say that “money-comodity and gift relations are not just in conflict but also co-exist in symbiosis” we could say the same for the organisations of our productions and for what we are setting up as groups and individuals.

Actually I have to confess that what scared me more on the hyper commodification of art is the way it makes it more and more looks like the mass music industry. I mean the « Kleenex artits » phenomenon ; very young people with a kind of un-mature and standardised work, used for three-four years then thrown away. As they are broadly disseminated, those kind of works tends to become new canons.

  1. thank you blupi, your answer made me think of this book recently published in Italian, where the economist Christian Marazzi held a seminar to a group of artists about ‘surplus value’. http://www.dinamopress.it/bussola/christian-marazzi-introduzione-al-plusvalore
    Marazzi starts with the example of the commodification or serialization art in the late nineteenth century to talk about the origins and transformations of the theory of value. It tries to argue for an original position for the artist in the contemporary economy. So it would be more than being inside and outside, but being inside in a ‘differential way’… I am struck by the coexistence of so many different ways of ‘doing art’ in contemporary culture, whose relation to the market is far from univocal or resolved…

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I would like to start with the consideration that neoliberalism as a political rationality which has heavily impacted on the figure of the artist and on the institutional context where art is operating has become kind of exhausted. It seems like it has become a space without potential and without promise, which however persists as the dominant framework. We are more conscious both of its mechanisms of identification (the artist as entrepreneur) and its structural commitment to creating large inequalities among artists and cultural producers in order to produce value hierarchies. I would like to know how the forum feels about this statement. What has happened to artistic and cultural labor which is kind of irreversible? How are artists dealing with this condition?

I would like to start with the consideration that neoliberalism as a political rationality which has heavily impacted on the figure of the artist and on the institutional context where art is operating has become kind of exhausted. It seems like it has become a space without potential and without promise, which however persists as the dominant framework. We are more conscious both of its mechanisms of identification (the artist as entrepreneur) and its structural commitment to creating large inequalities among artists and cultural producers in order to produce value hierarchies. I would like to know how the forum feels about this statement. What has happened to artistic and cultural labor which is kind of irreversible? How are artists dealing with this condition?

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2 Answers

Take the new book that was just published by Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre, “Enrichissement. Une critique de la marchandise” (no English translation available yet). They address the phenonenom of the “economy of enrichment” (my translation), meaning how storytelling has become the main attribute of goods in order to be sold.

I can’t stop asking myself if art hasn’t shown the path as storytelling has been one of the main attribute of art practices. It is quite often an object/film/performance that tell a story (and often we need to read it on a piece of paper nearby or on a label on the wall). Are we going in the right direction?

  1. The question of storytelling is very relevant, I believe, as it determines consistently the way in which nowadays our social sphere is constructed, social relationships are informed, and interactions of sociocultural, political and economic nature are intertwined. Storytelling is everywhere.

    Yet, storytelling isn’t but a strategy and a tool and, as such, it can be abused, or used to achieve the most sordid results.

    I remember Yves Citton speaking about storytelling and “mythocracy” (mythocratie) in an interview, and outlining several contexts in which storytelling is employed nowadays as an alienating instrument of power, in order to manipulate, control, exploit. Notably, he refers to ways in which this strategy has been appropriated by politicians / managers / advertisers, respectively to produce consensus and docile electors / obedient and effective workers / greedy consumerists (as you also introduced). It can be a dangerous weapon, indeed.

    However—Citton suggests—it can also be employed by positive forces to mobilise resistance and foster critical thinking. Specifically, in the interview, Citton refers to political activism and the agenda of the French left. Now, leaving “la gauche” aside for a moment, I think that his discourse remains valuable and can be applied to artistic and cultural production, as well.

    My mind goes to discursive/narrative/filmic/speculative/participatory practices resting on storytelling—while I consider its potential to be one of the most effective approaches for encouraging participation and free contribution. That is to say, for reaching and involving people, who are given the chance to intervene in (and even alterate) the course of the narration, and reinvent themselves through their own intervention. Stories are this powerful!

    Could we see them as the place where social transformation is still possible, where political subjects can be shaped and alternatives can be envisioned? Don’t they dispose of the capacity to trigger social imagination, flights of fancy, articulation of possibilities?

    If we want to extend this consideration to artworks in general, and see them as depositories of stories to tell, I would suggest that the discourse remains valid, and charges us with responsibility: that of keeping questioning the way storytelling is employed when making art.

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Your email address will not be published.

This question inspired me two part of response.

In the past, some have tried to take radical positions against art market like conceptual artists with “unsaleable” immaterial works, or (suposed to be) “un-buyable” works like artist shit, but all those experiences were made into the art field which is not outside of the global capitalist system.

Thanks to those experiences, we now know that this system is able to integrate absolutely everything, the critic even more. Trying to make the art world changes without trying to change the whole thing is for me unconceivable ((even if I know this is no small matter.))

I think that we now have new kind of positions which are no longer envisaged within a system of binary oppositions (artist or curator, gallery or offspace, private or public). I relate them to the kind of “potlach” you are speaking about in Network Culture when you say that “money-comodity and gift relations are not just in conflict but also co-exist in symbiosis” we could say the same for the organisations of our productions and for what we are setting up as groups and individuals.

Actually I have to confess that what scared me more on the hyper commodification of art is the way it makes it more and more looks like the mass music industry. I mean the « Kleenex artits » phenomenon ; very young people with a kind of un-mature and standardised work, used for three-four years then thrown away. As they are broadly disseminated, those kind of works tends to become new canons.

  1. thank you blupi, your answer made me think of this book recently published in Italian, where the economist Christian Marazzi held a seminar to a group of artists about ‘surplus value’. http://www.dinamopress.it/bussola/christian-marazzi-introduzione-al-plusvalore
    Marazzi starts with the example of the commodification or serialization art in the late nineteenth century to talk about the origins and transformations of the theory of value. It tries to argue for an original position for the artist in the contemporary economy. So it would be more than being inside and outside, but being inside in a ‘differential way’… I am struck by the coexistence of so many different ways of ‘doing art’ in contemporary culture, whose relation to the market is far from univocal or resolved…

+ add comment

Your email address will not be published.