Friday, November 26, 2010

The star of the art firmament market (fill-in the blanks)

More art is made across the world, by many more people than ever before. The state of contemporary art has become a phenomenon of global scale.-- Okwui Enwezor's interview (April, 2009).
Alfredo Triff

Without a doubt, the _____ is our new hero. A glib, fast, committed, skillful character of the art firmament uniquely trained to unravel the most intricate conceptual codes and aesthetic paradoxes. He or she can bring together east, west, north and south, within a single cultural bubble. This new global translator is autarchic, idealistic and heroic. Behold, the ______!

At the same time, the presentation of art is more dependent on the _______ than ever. There seems to be a consensus that when art from one culture is shown in another, it cannot speak for itself.*

Brenson's idea of culture, above, suffers from what I will call "Broodthaers' symptom,"1 an obsessive/compulsive behavior exhibited by ______ -as well as museum directors- to theorize and produce strategies to control what Enwezor calls "the state of contemporary art."2  Notice Brenson's vague ethnological drift, as if "contemporary art" had a mission to propagate and become assimilated by the diverse ethnic groups of world (in Hollywood parlance, think of the curator as a post-modern, globe-trotter, smartly-dressed Indiana Jones Jr.).

The 21st-century ______ works in a supremely globalized reality.-- Hans Ulrich Olbrist, interview for The Telegraph, October 2010).

The increasing centrality of the _______ has also been reinforced by the emergence of installation as the standard form in which contemporary artists around the world are working. By so doing, however, they implicitly acknowledge the _______'s inescapable authority.

Installation, for example, is a unique "cultural" product of the West,3 an ideal medium for late-Twentieth Century art market. How come? Installation contains the right opacity (i.e., "it turns human subjectivity into 3-D commodities"4), it helps build conspicuous urban mystique and is as big as the house containing it.  So, Brenson's ______ is not translating much "between cultures," as between audiences and institutions.

Installations involve selecting and arranging in a space often shared by visitors. But the apparent complexity of labor is a red herring as far as presentation goes. Installations are always pre-presented, presupposed within a conceptual transitive framework:

translation ---> legitimation ---> acquisition

To which extent is the increasing "opacity" of contemporary art a means to enhance contemporary art's translatability thus rendering it more marketable?

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev: You want to punish me because I'm a famous _______... who cares about that?  A "performance" with Nedko Solakov.

And the inevitable solitude of the________ throughout the development of their exhibitions, despite the teams they assemble, suggests to me that their situations are not unlike those of many of the most significant artists of the twentieth century, whose abilities to bring something necessary into the world required not only vision but also an inexhaustible supply of belief, focus, resilience, and nerve.

Sorry to spoil the picture. This heroic image of the lonesome "artist/_____," existing without others, -as in Christov-Bakargiev's video performance, above- looks like a serious case of Broodthaers' symptom disguised as (barely tolerable) performative publicity stunt.
*All red quotes taken from "The Curator's Moment", by Michael Brenson, (Art Journal, Vol. 57, Issue 4. Winter, 1998). 1 In the fall of 1968, Marcel Broodthaers opened his Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles, Section of the Nineteenth Century on the ground floor of his house:

 Marcel Broodthaers' Museum of Modern Art, (1968).

"The Museum opened with a press conference and a party of art-world dignitaries and friends, at which Broodthaers gave the inaugural speech. In what can be considered a 'conceptual performance,' he not only usurped the role of museum director and curator but that of press agent and caterer as well. His art, then, was a parody of artistic packaging." Irving Sandler, Art of the Postmodern Era: From the Late 1960s to the Early 1990s, (Icon Editions, 1996) p. 95.  2 From the point of view of the market, it's obvious that exhibiting culture is a form of market control.

Photo op from the Department of Eagles: Jeffrey Deitch and Jeff Koons, (2009).

Art consultant/promoter/curator/ubergallerist Jeffrey Deitch discloses: "The market place has become so dynamic, and the media coverage of the market place is now getting so good, that the market place itself is creating the critical consensus ...You have now ten thousand people following these auction results very closely, even artists. The market place is now communicating in a broader, more specific way than art magazines and art critics (my red italics)." Gilda Williams, "Interviews with Jeffrey Deitch", Flash Art (Summer 1990) p. 169. Deitch's bombastic and candid declaration reveals why the market owns the present consensus about art.  3Late 1960's-early 1970's installation art, as well as body art and minimal art were assimilated by the market. The proof is James Monte and Marcia Tucker's first museum show of postminimal art (as early as 1969), Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials, at the Whitney Museum. Because postminimal works were not objects, they were generally ephemeral. For many artists with countercultural sympathies the documentation of these ephemera did not constitute art per se, (this is why they had turned to "process", earth art, installation, etc). They did not want to create art commodities. Irving Sandler makes an interesting point of how -even- postminimal art became marketable:
Lucy Lippard observed, that their refusal to produce salable objects would subvert the art market (although she later acknowledged that this attempt had failed). In the end the documentation was accorded the status of art object. Indeed, much of impermanent postminimal art seemed to have been made because of the documentation it yielded: It was made to be photographed. As Nancy Foote wrote: "It's ironic that an art whose generating impulse was the urge to break away from the collectible object (and hence the gallery/collector/artbook syndrome) might through an obsession with the extent and quality of its documentation, have come full circle.
Irving Sandler, p. 24.  4 Giacinto di Pietrantonio, "Images, Things and Participation," Parkett 50/51, 1997.


Feminista said...

That video of Christov-Bakargiev screaming is creepy. She plays the existantial performer but the performance is clear: you run Documenta!

that is not the fault of art said...

Triff, by being so general and vague as you usually are you do more damage than good.

The curator you have in mind is a superstar. But most of the curators here in Miami deal with other problems: lack of funds, museum politics, an apathetic public and yes, they can be idealistic. Many really want to do what they love which is art.

I agree that installations can be prepresented but that is not why they are so hard to explain to people.

Are you not part of the market? You wrote for a weekly and for the paper. If your opinions were used to sell something, does that make you a seller? C'mon!

judith ghashghaei said...

Judith G. I think is a good article, it call the attention about curator social role. Actually, curators are the stars of the “entertainment” which demonstrate the failure of the museum as a institution unable to attract public… Contradictory: curators inflated exhibition with to much bla, bla, bla now that anti-theories are fashion… that is because most of the time curators are behind…Yeaph, they are always behind, it is a historical fact… Curators are a restriction for creation, they impose their taste and ideology generally divorce from artist felling and ideas. Curators remain me the famous cloths designers their extravagances that no one use… One curator can not fix all sizes, it should be a curator for each artist or art tendency…
Fortunately, to many artist do not care about recognition of their esthetical products, neither their bla bla part and they get free, totally free into alternative spaces and opportunities…Is not casualty the book of the artist, mail art and fluxus, etc. become Art consumed for and by artists . . Hey sorry for my broken English but just recently I was talking with my friends about this…

miamibourbaki said...

Keep visiting, Judith. I agree on your emphasis on "entertainment." What more can we expect from art?

TINTFOA: Thanks for your comment. That's precisely the curator I have in mind. And he calls the shots (though I need to explain this in more detail). Of course I'm part of the market! And you too. But I resist the market. Do you?

Feminista: At least Christov-Bakargiev has a sense of humor.:)

swampthing said...

For friends and family discount, visit the Kissing Booth show at Swampspace.

Dissey said...

Curators don't care. What they do is talk to each other and pat each other in the back. My experience is that Ive applied to some grants and then I get the same response. The winners are always the same. Who are the jurors? The same circle of buddies.

No art critic said...

The curator has too many conflicting goals for the same job. They don't see it because they don't care. Examples:

A prominent art dealer is invited to join the board of trustees of a major art museum that acquires and exhibits works of the kind that the dealer shows and sells.

The director of art museum A is invited to become a trustee of museum B, which is active in the same fields as museum A.

This one is true: A distinguished art historian who is the leading expert on an important period of art history collects works from that period and occasionally bids at auction for herself. She also advises other collectors and bids for them at auction. She is employed as a senior curator at a major museum, which she advises on acquisitions and for which she bids at auction. Finally, she is a trustee of another museum that actively collects in her field, which she advises and for which she also bids at auction.

How about the active collector of works that the museum also acquires and shows who is invited to join the board of the museum?

miamibourbaki said...

Interesting point, NAC.

miamibourbaki said...

Swapmthing, thanks for visiting.

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