what is the function of art within disaster capitalism:
politics of art within a post-fordist post democracy. (rant part 2, part 1 of part 2) asking questions more than a formulated enquiry/answer.
A standard way of relating politics to art assumes that art perhaps represents political issues in one way or another. but there is a much more interesting perspective: The politics of the field of art as a place of work. Simply look at what it does – rather than what it shows. (1)
Amongst all other forms of art, contemporary fine art has been linked most closely to the Post-fordist speculation: with it’s bling, boom and busts. We only have to look at Damien Hirst’s recent shit storm of the dot’s that has recently opened in NYC. The people split between pure ideological oblivion – the brand subsequently equals almost a good review; and the other half of the art population wondering whether Hirst has actually anything of any worth left to say. But in this instance, let’s not down grade the importance of Hirst’s work, especially in the 80’s. His statement to begin with, how one can literally organise and demand success, the arrogance of the art world, the monopoly of it. Every art student knows the story of how in his 2nd year at Goldsmith’s, him and his YBA hommies set up a show in an abandoned factory and he arranged a bunch of cabs to collect collectors and galleries and take them to the show – which ultimately won him critical acclaim and collector interest.
Smart: what this says is though is that contemporary art is placed squarely in the neoliberal thick of things. we cannot dissociate the hype around contemporary art from the crazy policies used to slow down failing economies.
Contemporary art is a brand name without a brand, ready to be promoted into anything. As Hito Steyerl said in her lecture on Post-Democracy: “If contemporary art is the answer, the question is: How can capitalism be made more beautiful? But contemporary art is not just about beauty, it’s about function. what is the function of art within disaster capitalism? ”
(imagine a rant that has been Over-Done about the monopolisation of a growing culture of brand-named galleries taking over the world like the guggenhiem. how oil-companies and banks sponsor shows to avoid looking like their geopolitical power is being used to fuel oppersion and class wars. how these brands, disneyfication galleries are now – like the world economy – starting to fail too. yeah see everything else written much more eloquently on this and imagine i wrote it or pretended to write it like some of this post)
Contemporary Art feeds on it’s ongoing class struggle, spanning from everything to everyone. But just as you would expect in this class struggle lays a spectra. A dark mass, something that Gregory Sholette coined as ‘Dark Matter’. It generates surplus. Leaves people, mostly the working class, for dead. Most work is produced as spectacle, o post-fordist all you can work. Your labour as an artist, working in the dark matter of it all, is deeply compromised, sometime undignified and hyperactive.
Steyerl talked about an accelerated form of artistic production. How it creates punch an glitz, sensation and impact. It supplies consumers with all they never even knew that they wanted. The Dark Matter folks, those in a position to continue being exploited in the hope of the male-ego-driven idea of fame, respect and authority feeds on exhaustion ( as it means you’re busy WORKING on something), on deadlines and curatorial bullshit, on small talk and fine print. In short, those willing – thrive on an accelerated exploitation. The art world , with the exception of domestic and care-work is the biggest industry that has the most money floating around but with the most unpaid labour around.
Part 2 coming soon, and the rethinking of the above and references will happen with the post of part 2 of part 2.