I used to be in a field (video) where there wasn’t any market interest whatsoever. The upside of this could be summed up in five words:
“DO WHATEVER YOU FUCKING WANT”
NO MARKET (often, not always) = INVISIBILITY
The last bunch of years (is there a connection between the fall of the left here?) have seen formerly market-resistant art forms (video, conceptual art) aggressively move, or in the case of performance art, try to move into the marketplace. It is no surprise that much of this work has become more conservative and less relevant (I’ve long felt that conceptual art, for example, has entered into its ‘baroque’ phase). These forms, when they mutate, have the market-friendly (ever evident in commercial advertising tropes) ‘smell’ of resistance/avant-garde/edginess/revolutionary tendencies, without actually HAVING them. They must, almost by definition, take on the dominant values of the larger world, though there’s certainly interesting leakage and contradictions that can occur (again, also very evident in commercial television).
But let’s be frank, rich people are for the most part not the most politically left-leaning/civic-minded/risk-taking/open-minded/liberal-even/please fill in your hyphenated two words here. Rich people are intent on preserving and increasing their…wealth. Their/our pursuit of ever-increasing consumption levels has always been politically negative and socially reprehensible, and it is even more so in our current world circumstances.
As I write the above, it all seems more than self evident – and yet this strongly goes against the current assumptions in the art world that:
SELLING = GOOD
What has motivated this semi-diatribe? The current article/s in the New York Times on performance art. I will not come down on either side yet (should it be re-performed, should it be editioned and sold…)
I just want to point out how far down the road we’ve come, and what a strange place we now find ourselves in.
Isn’t Joan Jonas fab?