art world – p2

another art world 

p2 – utopia of freedom as a market value

by nika dubrovsky and david graeber (nov 2019)

(found when nika shared p3):

The Romantic legacy has by no means disappeared from the contemporary art world—it’s just retained only its most elitist elements. We still worship the individual genius, mad, tortured, or otherwise; what has been purged is any explicit belief that we all begin as artists, and could, in a future society in which forms of institutional violence are rooted out, become artists once again. As a result, that very conception of freedom that once drove the various avant-gardes has come to regulate a logic of commoditization—or even more, it has encouraged us to see that logic of commoditization as the definition of freedom itself.

In the previous installment of this essay, we recalled that the Russian revolutionary avant-garde imagined “people of the future” (Budetlyans) would not only to be liberated from those unfair and malicious social conditions that stifled their creativity, they would also enjoy a kind of almost childlike freedom. . t

graeber care/free law

This was a direct invocation of the original Romantic conception, born together with the concept of “culture” itself, one explicitly formulated in reaction to the logic of commoditization.

The Romantic conception of the artist as isolated genius emerged, of course, at roughly the same time as the Industrial Revolution. This was almost certainly no coincidence. As French sociologist Alain Caillé has suggested, the artistic genius might best be conceived as a kind of structural complement to the factory system.

The fact that everyone knows this, and many claim to object, does not make it any less true. Really, it just reveals how difficult this habit is to overcome.

graeber rethink law

Because the overwhelming majority of artworks remain as they have always been, since the Industrial Revolution, seen as making sense only in relation to some unique individual soul. An art world that was not organized around the creative vision of named individuals simply would not be an “art world” at all.

Why then the lingering power of industrial categories and industrial-age modes of thought? The ultimate reason, it seems to us, lies in our inability to detach ourselves from the notion of “production.”

norton productivity law

what we need: art (by day/light) and sleep (by night/dark) as re\set.. to fittingness/undisturbed ecosystem

We still seem obsessed with the notion that work is necessarily a matter of making things; preferably, through a process that is simultaneously mysterious, and at least a little bit unpleasant.

not only that.. but work as making things for other people (or solving other people’s problems)

Why do we identify work with “production” in the first place, rather than tending to things, maintaining them, or moving them around?

caring labor

The factory worker suffers because he’s alienated from his work, it means nothing to him, and he has no control over it; the artist, because she’s hopelessly entangled in it and will never be able to break free.

let’s do this firstfree art\ists

Art is still conceived as a factory of endless productivity, and art is still seen as somehow popping, through a painful yet mysterious process, directly from the artist’s brain. And with the art world sitting as it does at the peak of the “creative industries,” all this works to subtly suggest that the administrators and bureaucrats who increasingly make it up really are somehow “producing” something after all—or, something other than the various social tissues of the hierarchical structures of the art world itself.

fuller too much law

Much of what is called the art world consists of an endless speculation on the rules, which are always in flux and under negotiation. No one claims to be responsible for them, everyone claims they are just trying to figure them out. It becomes all the more complicated because exposing, challenging, or breaking the rules is now the main substance of art itself.. t

yeah that..

we need a means to shift from defense to offense.. from response to alive ness

ie: cure ios city

curiosity over decision making because decision making (even what to fight for/against et al) is unmooring us law

This game of making a spectacular show of violating the rules, so as to create even more highly paid work for those who recalibrate, redistribute, and reevaluate them, is hardly limited to the art world, incidentally. Increasingly, it is the basic substance of politics itself. Consider Brexit. While presented as an outburst of popular rage, of burn-it-all-down revulsion against administrative elites, the class of people who are going to benefit the most from Brexit will obviously be lawyers, who will now have untold thousands of thousand-pound-an-hour work thrown at them reevaluating pretty much every contractual agreement the UK has entered into for the last forty-odd years. In many ways it stands as a parable for our times.

This is why we believe the image of the individual creative genius is so important. Deny it though we might, it continues to play a role in regulating the rules of the game.

begs a means to undo our hierarchical listening

To put it another way: the continued embrace of one half of the Romantic ideal is premised on the absolute exclusion of the other one. If there’s one absolute rule, one red line that cannot be crossed, it is that everyone cannot be an artist. ..t

which is parallel to the rule we need to go forward (to the legit freedom of 8b people) – everyone already is an artist (we’re just not listening deep enough)

let’s do this firstfree art\ists – aka: everyoneacross the board

imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch in 8b souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to connect/coord us.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for

the energy of 8b alive people

The kind of value art creates must, necessarily, be based on exclusion.

graeber values law

and unconditional ness

has to be all of us

This is not just because any market must, as we note, operate on a principle of scarcity, and some sort of conception of spiritual genius seems the only way to justify the levels of scarcity that a market pumped quite so full of the profits of financialized derivatives requires.

graeber f & b same law et al

The art world has, since the Industrial Revolution, always been based on the idea that “real art” is priceless and rare; the way the avant-garde challenge to this principle has been absorbed and recuperated has been to add to this that its definition is also constantly shifting and unstable. But this situation is in fact altogether favorable to the current players of the art market in the same way that market volatility is favorable to bond traders: the rapidly changing values of art objects, the discovery of the new names of artists allow for ever-new opportunities for profit, and especially for the insider traders who have some advance knowledge of how the rules are about to change (in many cases, because they are involved in changing them themselves). This is what the work of gallerists and curators is basically about. The price spikes, the conceptual revolutions, the new discoveries, the constant gladiatorial clashes between artists, galleries, curators, critics—all combine to propose a subtle argument: that the characteristic logic of financial markets, the combination of creative destruction, self-marketing, and speculation, is freedom, indeed, freedom on the most refined spiritual level. After all, it is nothing if not exhilerating. It feels like a game where anything goes. But so, often, does the financialized peaks of the business world; and just as in the business world, all this is only possible against the unstated background of that which absolutely cannot be challenged, which are ultimately, structures of exclusion.

enclosure et al

Our conclusions might seem bleak. Art remains inseparable from a Romantic notion of freedom; but the pursuit of the individual version of Romantic freedom seems to lead inexorably to validating the logic of finance capital, just as the pursuit of the collective, democratic version of Romantic freedom, in which art is free to all, leads—if Tzvetan Todorov and company are to be believed—inexorably to the gulag.

gulag: a system of labor camps maintained in the former Soviet Union from 1930 to 1955 in which many people died.

But we don’t think things are really as bad as all that

But the financial crisis of 2008, and particularly the looming crisis of climate change, which threatens to kill far more humans than all the wars of the twentieth century combined, has demonstrated that the rule of managers and technocrats is likely even more dangerous still.

any form of people telling other people what to do

And in this case (refugee boat as art et al), the analysis of expert qualifications of artists and curators, or assessments of the level of complexity and subtlety of any specific work, is quite a meaningless exercise.

bullshit jobs – dg

We would like to imagine the possibility of a completely different model of the art world. .t It’s sometimes remarked that even if a modest proportion of the mathematicians and software engineers currently engaged in designing technology for high-speed trading were to shift to working on trying to design alternatives to capital, we’d easily have at least the outlines of a dozen viable economic systems laid out in no time.


mufleh humanity lawwe have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity– Luma Mufleh

What if we were to apply the same creativity we do to inventing new works of art, or for that matter theories about the nature of art, to imagining different ways the institutional structure itself could be organized? What would art communism actually be like?

ie: 2 convers as infra


another art world – parts 1, 2, and 3