The magazine for critique and discourse between artist, collectors, and curators.
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Conversation between Adler Guerrier, Felice Grodin, and Olivia Ramos.
RAMOS: hi guys, thank you for joining the conversation
GRODIN: hi guys
The subject tonight is the economics of art making or being an artist.
I thought we were going to talk about broader economic issues within the art world.
Sure... we can scale it up.
Let's consider it.
It's all related anyway and when we zoom out it informs all landscapes.
Did you want to talk about its connections to the art writing panel, as well?
I believe the panel is where it started. All three of us were present.
My point was something along the lines of the art world depending way too much on philanthropy.
And potentially artist being able to navigate the market themselves by simply stepping outside the art world from time to time
But we may have to underline the various spheres within the art world.
It's an interesting point in terms of stating that artist's should step outside of the art world. please qualify..
Or even within an individual art practice.
I mean art museum, art galleries, artists, art schools.
I can qualify with a case study.
I began a series on mapping my emotions and saw there was value in the result... something that perhaps could be of service to other people, so i created a phone application to test this series.
Point being, using my findings in art making stepped outside the art world and into a business venture.
Yeah but, it is a tool and service.
Not unlike an artist, who also teach.
As a service to students at a university.
I would start by generally stating that one can argue that the socio-political claims that artworks may have are more often than not autonomous and external to its market conditions..
if then, the artwork is merely representational -- than could there be an alternate approach that render artworks performative?
But what about the artists who make these autonomous works? They live with the effect of market conditions.
They must eat, live somewhere, have a place to make that work.
I do not mean to say that autonomy should be eliminated. what i mean to say is, given the current mode, capitalism, is there another form(at) of art?
Agreed. autonomy is good. And not really threatened.
What do you mean by autonomy ? are you referring to the artist or the work?
It exists no matter what capitalism or whatever-ism does.
You mean the work does not need to engage.
Autonomy has been the given. And i find it rewarding as someone who still likes to have a studio practice. but i also like to think that there is a wing of one's practice that is more of a networked condition. that the format of circulation plays a role in the work..
I think engagement is the issue i suppose.
Perhaps autonomy is being used instead of relevant?
and relevant is more about engaging or not engaging
Within the art world, the possibilities are defined.
Is that one of the issues? that art is only engaging within the art world?
Art is everywhere.
Go to PAMM
Go to Wynwood
Isn't PAMM (and Wynwood) within the art world?
PAMM is an art institution.
But to the Kendall taxpayer, it is theirs.
Not the art world's.
How PAMM is run, reflect the influence of the art world?
But art is engaging.
Our issue concerns how artists engages the economy.
The stakeholders must be concerned with the value and perception of art/artist/artworks.
And how art/artist/artworks lend themselves to be a commodity within the larger economy.
Who are the stakeholders?
The artists, the art market, art museums.
Real estate industry, banks.
Do you think the interest of the art market and the interest of the artist are aligned?
I think the interesting thing about the correlation of art to 'market' is that in fact the art market is quite opaque. it's not a transparent or regulated market. since that is the case, it's very closed
Real estate and banking are much more regulated. therefore what drives the 'art market' ?
The interests cannot be truly aligned.
I would say the "bottom line" drives the art market - not unlike real estate or banking.
Overlapping sphere of interest.
There is nothing wrong with the driver because they are businesses.
Yes, it is a market, after all.
Which is why artist and art markets are stakeholders of different stakes.
If that makes sense.
My point being - why can't an artist create its' own market.
It's own demand.. and control their business
That is still the art market.
I don’t know.
What if it happens outside the art market?
Most of them good businessmen.
How can it be outside of..
Business people (my apologies)
But that is on top of the market.
The middle of it does pretty well.
But on the bottom...
The bottom of anything doesn’t do well.
If we focus there, and are able to offer a new idea..
We would be revolutionaries.
I fail to see why naturalizing pure capitalism is interesting.. although i do think that there have been interesting explorations recently into a kind of hack of the existing system..
Expand on that, Felice.
Natural or not, it is the dominant beast.
I missed the real flow talk.
Yes, i hear ya. but as artist's what is the project? i mentioned this on the panel. so i understand we need to eat, sleep, pay bills, etc. but i do believe that part of our ambitions might also to think on a larger scale. what has led to the Paris climate talks...?
I do appreciate the idea as Olivia points out that we ought to be stronger agents..
I think it is simple - business is simple - it is a financial structure.
The ideas are the hard part and artist are full of ideas.
But how? when we are on the bottom?
If you are asking me... have artist learn finance.
Simple as a formula.
Business fail all the time.
They fail because of economic forces.
Not because they are bad.
Do you think there is a monopoly in the art world?
What kind of a monopoly?
I guess a better question would be, what are the economic forces? In the art world i mean.
The simple structure is income one side, debt on the other.
But piles up faster - rent, labor, travel, fabrication, time.
Income involves multiples forces.
The forces are the art market are driven by not only the desire and love of owning a particular work that may escalate in value, it's also a culture of owning, of operating around the forces of ..
I am not sure.
What happen to autonomy?
What happen to lager ideas?
It's interesting to me that historically the work of art had 'meaning' that then created value. but the meaning has been replaced by the circulation and exchange of perceived value - monetary but also socialized. liquid value..
Are you claiming artworks no longer hold meaning?
Because of the ways in which things move - why still autonomy then?
Yes -- i am saying that meaning is contingent and decoupled from the traditional art object.
It becomes difficult to produce art then doesn't it?
If it has to be translated into a liquid value.
The artist then is creating currency.
I think objects can function in multiple realms of value.
Top of the market does print money.
Felice - i think your point conflates multiple realms
No - actually i think that it's an incredible time if we see it that way! because if we no longer have pressure to 'mean' .. than what is the work 'doing?' where is it located and how does it circulate? are there platforms? are there infrastructures? what existing infrastructures outside of traditional art may we infiltrate? what difference can we make? i'm hopeful..:)
Adler - how do you defend meaning?
OK, i see the point is to conflate strategically.
Meaning is the old-school definition.
Kehinde Wiley paints beautiful paintings, to own one is to, for one, engage beauty.
Secondly and thirdly, may indicate Wiley market presence and/or where is paintings circulate.
I'm not trying to conflate but i'm trying to perhaps suggest that sticking to traditional circulatory and market conditions are already quite familar. if one is successful that is fine. but most artists are not. i also don't feel the need to eliminate such conditions but there need to be other openings and avenues. I also feel that art can perform within other existing infrastructures, ie urbanism, publishing, ecological etc. that might be alternate trajectories.
Free of meaning is very modernist.
And has shortcomings as a strategy.
It is a very-within-art-world strategy.
Actually 'free of meaning' is one of the very issues with contemporary art so i agree with your point.
I am arguing "perform within other existing infrastructures" is also traditional.
And not alternative..
I don't think necessary it's about an exit strategy or 'alternative' as away from the real. i do think that specificity is needed and there are numerous paths one could take...
But exit strategy usually means disengagement.
You win the lottery, and now you make works free of all pressure. True autonomy.
This economy reality leaves few options.
I wish i can see an alternative.
Do you agree that artist have insight to human behavior.
They are sort of insiders of humanity.
We're saying the same thing i think. i'm not advocating disengagement -- the opposite. i'm arguing for and engagement outside the traditional infrastructures and economies of 'art'.
If artist have insider information, which is the key to making good investments....
Isn’t acting on insider information illegal.
It is in the financial world.
Not sure if this applies in the art world.
What would constitute insider info then?
It sounds like it is just info.
Well if all industries depends on human insight. And artist have the most insight.
Why aren't artist bigger players everywhere? Why aren't artist the most wanted consultants?
Artists know art and how it functions.
Artist specialize in humanity
Most artists are useless to a farmer.
Artist's insights are aesthetic.
Aesthetics is a tool.
Aesthetics doesn't produce meaning
This lays bare the very issue of our 'job' -- why not both?!
That would be my suggestion.
As much as i would love to paint all day, i have to be of service beyond aesthetics.
I don’t see how artists who haven't specialized in an area of knowledge can be useful in it.
Artist can be useful in all areas of knowledge.
This is why higher education exists.
Higher education for what?
Useful only after they specialize in it.
Higher education to be well-verse in the issues, history, problems of a subject.
And then suggest solutions.
Or avenues for exploration or study
Would you agree that most industries address human subject matter, and try to produce solutions for human beings?
Philosophers are playing the role that you describe.
Philosophy is the art of thinking no?
I would not agree.
The art of concepts?
Philosophy translates abstract concepts into words
It is the study of.
And art is the study of humanity.
So this process of specialization in knowledge is what philosophy does.
Art is not the study of humanity.
Art reflects our humanity.
Philosophy shapes/forms abstract concepts.
I want artist to be good and useful, but we need them to be empowered to do that.
knowledge, experience, thinking, reason
Our job is at least two fold.
One where we make autonomous works, beautiful and good.
Secondly, our works or us influences discourse.
The second doesn't always occur.
And third we are of service to humanity in a tangible way that has potential for a financial structure that we can count on
This third is a subset of the second.
The third has more to do with action than discourse.
Discourse isn't inactive.
Speaking and doing are two different things no?
I can talk about taking action all day...
Current philosophy is grappling with less of a traditional division between thoughts/action - less reflective about cognition and more about operation(s).. ie. Reza Negarestani :: Where is the Concept? (Localization, Ramification, Navigation)..so i take it to suggest that philosophy is no longer essentialized but about functional aspects or possibilities. what is then possible is up to us..
Adler i also agree with your point that discourse is not inactive --
"what is then possible is up to us." this has always been true, no?
discourse is awareness
art is discourse
action is something else
Yes, art is discursive.
One does something, but first images it.
While doing it, one thinks and modifies ones action.
Action and thought are always linked.
I think Olivia that discourse can be generative so i don't fully agree with that point.. i think Adler you’re hinting at that
I am coming from a business perspective
Sometimes one has to be strategic.. other times tactical
"i am taking action by raising awareness" without understanding that such awareness have information that can be monetized.
That's all I'm saying.
Artist have insight.
Yes, discourse develops strategies and tactics.
Right... that insight is the DNA of business ventures.
Monetization for the sake of...
Insight + finance = liquidity ...
for the sake of survival
for the sake of expansion
for the sake of further exploration
for the sake of "not being at the bottom"
But that is the traditional business model.
Not for artist
I know it still have value.
Artist aren’t excluded.
They can compete and aren’t favored.
How can artist access the financial market?
Can we get startup monies or even loans?
Will learning finance, help us have assets?
I agree with the need for more economic agency for an artist. but i think you're overemphasizing the pay off so to speak. knowing a bit about finance or business practice is useful but how is it implemented? what is the practice itself and how is it the same or different from other forms of practice? i think these are important issues and thank you for having this discussion today! there seems to be much at stake..
That is why philanthropy has supported artist. The finance will not.