File spoon-archives/avant-garde.archive/avant-garde_1996/avant-garde_Feb.96, message 3

Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 17:23:47 -0500
Subject: Re: public (fwd)

>----- Begin Included Message -----
>>From Tue Jan 30 13:00:10 1996
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>Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 12:08:51 -0500
>From: Ostrow/Kaneda <>
>Subject: Re: public (fwd)
>Content-Length: 1943
>>And I`d have to ask why would you choose to support the oppressive
>>institutions that 'claim' to exclusively represent artistic practise. I
>>can think of no other profession that may require one to work and study,
>>perhaps for decades, only to have superfluous 'representatives' of your
>>profession take half of any possible income (after expenses) and provide
>>no other significant benefits. Basic rights that are still marginally
>>accorded to other workers are nowhere to be seen. This is why buyers of
>>art are increasingly attracted to directly supporting the artists and not
>>their agents; are you really surprised that it costs less?

I doubt any institution claims to be the only one supporting the arts. But
what are you going to do when you are an artist  in whom people are
interested but when most of those who are interested cannot pay, when you
are well enough known that you receive twenty or thirty letters each day
but cannot afford the postage to reply, when you do only one thing well and
that is art and being fifty eight or so years old you are quite
unemployable? When you have no business sense but need someone who does?
Damn it, you may well need an agent and I pray you find one before
exhaustion kills you.

>>As for museums... look past the 'specialist' rhetoric and pandering to see
>>them for what they`ve become: Their collections are built on inflated and
>>'authorized values' for very rich peoples` tax write-offs; essentially,
>>the museum is a fortress (that the public must additionally finance),
>>stockpiled with withheld public-monies. 'Hey, how about cashing-in that
>>Koschka for a homeless-shelter?' Real-art can be very hard-pressed to
>>acquire any funds or even public notice in the shadows of these parasitic
There is a certain difference between acquisitions and education; and,
also, different museums serve different roles. Some are community-oriented,
primarily. The ones you are thinking of arte those whicxh focus on their
permanent collections, but if all they did was provide write-offs for the
NeoRepublican Monstrosities (who usually fund sports palaces, not
museums-the NeoChristian radrights aren't famous art collectors), then they
would become only glorified warehouses, and wouldn't get that  sine qua non
which they need to provide for their staffs-high attendance records.

The problem, rather, is that museums become an adjunct of the commercial
entertainment and restaurant industries, doing pop education but rather too
little of the heavier variety. This may suit you with your populist
rhetoric (homeless indeed!-I have three friends and several neighbors who
have been homeless, and baby it is quite a different problem from "homeless
shelters" which you propose be funded by selling a "Koschka" (who would buy
it?)-like try taking phone messages for someone who is homeless.
>>  { brad brace }   <<<< >>>>  ~finger for pgp

>The problem here is you do not know what is involved in being a gallerist
>rather than a mere dealer of merchndise, nor what a curator does. You are
>trapped in the very mentality you claim to critic, all you see is money and
>commodities, this is the logic of capaital and while culture can not escape
>its base not all things are reduciable to that base.

If only! Most of the galleries I know are too little interested in selling,
too much established as the genteel side-show of people who do not have to
worry where their next meal is coming from. The milords and miladies talk
knowingly about genteel nothings or perhaps real estate, but they pay more
attention to their salads and to the artists' gossip than either to their
ideas or to supporting those artists by placing their work in collections.
This is, after all, the nineteen nineties and we are over twenty years into
a disastrous economic retrenchment. The only quotable thing that gallerist
Leo Castelli ever said was "Every sale is a miracle." He should know-he is
one of the good ones. Those silly folk of the eighties-the Koonses, Sallies
& etc.-are a pop phenomenon, akin to the Nordfeldts, Blums and Behrmans of
sixty years ago,-they've more to do with bubble gum culture than with art
(no wonder they all seem to be making movies now!)-but who remembers those
guys now?

Except among the "Under-thirty-and-other-a-thou" crowd (the buying policy
of a certain kind of insy winsy gogo type-it means "the artist should be
under thirty and the work should cost less than a tyhousand dollars") I
must ask you: hasn't art-as-commodity been replaced by art-as-v
irtual-commodity? Isn't this the logical result of post-this-and-that

I must caution you: whjat I read in your comments seems utterly a
priori-the situation is even worse than what you describe.


Agents and lawyers
>seemingly are necessary in any feild were the producer is the most
>important asset. This is the problem of being petite bourgeois in a world
>of sharks.
>Saul Ostrow
>Art Editor Bomb Magazine
>Co-editor of the Journal Lusitania
>General Editor for  "Critical Voices"
>     --- from list ---
>----- End Included Message -----
>It's not difficult to become mired in an attitude of cynicism when one
>looks at
>the practices of galleries and museums and when one listens to artists on the
>topic of renumeration. I feel that a harsh critique of artists as well as a
>harsh critique of the system that artists bemoan (while ferociously
>courting it)
>is more than appropriate. An artist's product is very often above the baseness
>of commerce until it's time to cut the check. For every artist that
>succeeds in
>manipulating the system to a personal advantage there will be numerous others
>ready to tear him down as a panderer, but just as eager to fill his shoes.
>It's nothing to believe that art is above the baseness of economics. This is
>mostly true. But, I don't beleive that when artists speak of getting their due
>for their efforts that something more base and economic is not in play. Today,
>that's the rule and not the exception. This is a time when everybody is out to
>get what they think they have coming and artists have been lured by the
>marketplace the same as those tax write-offing rich folks.
>     --- from list ---

Dick Higgins
P O Box 27
Barrytown, NY 12507
        Tel: (914) 758-6488
        Fax: (914) 758-4416

Dick Higgins
P O Box 27
Barrytown, NY 12507
        Tel: (914) 758-6488
        Fax: (914) 758-4416

     --- from list ---



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