There’s nothing that the art world likes more than a crisis. We had a death of painting, a crisis of art critique, and another of institutions. Now, the art school’s in crisis too – but not in the way it thinks.
Is the fiction of art’s economic value now the key measure of culture? Does it matter that we don’t understand the figures? What would Baudrillard say about NFTs? Can we hope to restore aesthetic ideas of value?
Is the fiction of arts’s economic value now the key measure of culture? Are we now willingly econo-cultural agents? Does it matter that we don’t understand the figures?
What is creativity? While our traditional view of creative work might lead us to think of artists as solitary visionaries, the creative process is profoundly influenced by social interactions even when artists work alone.
Class may be the ultimate English taboo. The understanding and signalling of class or other identity attributes may become an obstacle to classical class analysis. An entirely different political class narrative may be called for that transcends the boundaries of sociological understanding before returning to the discipline once again.
Labour used to be regarded as an unattractive subject for art, the proximity of work to everyday life has subsequently narrowed the gap between work and art. The artist is no longer considered apart from the economic but is heralded as an example of how to work in neoliberal management textbooks.
In the middle of the twentieth century, the production of America’s consumer culture was centralised in New York. Every day tens of thousands of writers, editors, artists, performers, and technicians made the culture that shaped the consumer economy. But this was far from a smoothly running machine.
Are we witnessing a solidarity turn in art production? If artists are workers and workers are artists, who’s standing in solidarity with whom?Artistic solidarity could be a powerful tool, but only if it is twinned with a careful examination of the claims that art makes about its own needs, desires, and abilities.
The last twenty years have seen a rise of new forms of socially engaged art aimed. Leigh Claire La Berge’s Wages Against Artwork addresses what she calls decommodified labor – the slow diminishment of wages – and the increasing presence of animals and children in contemporary art.
We need new institutions, not new art, writes Coco Fusco. Who, if not artists, will build them? Could wind power lend an unlikely hand?
Who decides how much culture is enough? Even before the pandemic, the laws of supply and demand could not explain the art industry’s bubble-like growth, nor could the market forces or policy be blamed for the precarisation of artistic labour.
The arts might have hoped for a clean slate – but the post-pandemic art world is unlikely to be much better than the old one.
Almost fifty years separate the Paris riots of 1968 and the opening of the first WeWork office – but both events could prove useful in preparing for the next revolution in our working lives, which may have already begun.