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Bubble Bath

After reading Matt Taibbi’s “must-read” piece on Goldman Sachs and their influence in our culture I couldn’t help but mark the similarities to our own smaller art world. Here Matt describes the Goldman formula for success, one that we see perpetrated in the aesthetic markets on a much smaller scale…

“The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased.”

I’ll leave you to find your own aesthetic metaphors and cross-cultural examples once you’ve read Matt’s piece. This type of thinking/sophistry is EVERYWHERE, and what’s interesting for us is the idea of “rewriting the rules” through institutional power structures. This is part and parcel of the POMO enterprise as we have come to know it – a solipsistic, narcissistic endeavor that begins with appropriation, expropriation and reproduction. It demands that one never innovate, never actually create anything, that one simply claim ownership. It works through recombinations, customizations and the pilfering of huge pools of historic capital. It succeeds by whipping up huge, sexy economic markets for visual crap. It accumulates large portions of wealth and media influence to ensure institutional dominance of the “right” players. These “rules” have become the keys to power and success in our current art world. Let’s face it, this type of art won’t change for us until more Artists decide to take on the Postmodernists.

Jerry Saltz’s latest Culture Vulture (unfortunate image that – a carrion bird feeding from a rotting carcass) raves about the No Soul For Sale art fair as a do-it-yourself enterprise. But what Jerry doesn’t tell you is that it’s still the same old stuff on sale, repackaged POMO for the “New new” look and feel of today – selling art without seemingly selling out. Even the name of the show can be read in two ways – the obvious first read which stands for integrity, or the more insidious “NO SOUL” for Sale where aesthetic integrity doesn’t even exist to sell. OK that’s a bit OTT, but I’m gnawing a bone at the moment. My apologies to all the artists that are just trying to make a living. But what is clear is that Postmodern theoretical hegemony exists across ALL of our cultural enterprises and not simply in the images and objects produced by groups like the “Pictures Generation” or their progeny the “Younger than Jesus” crowd. They are making art that reflects our time while they hope to make a living doing work that they love to do. I can’t argue with that… But maybe as artists we should expect more…

We hope to be back soon with new Rough Trade posts. June was a very heavy month. Stay tuned…

Addendum: I just saw this post by Paul Corio on his blog and I thought it relevant to our continuing discussion on Postmodernism. Paul’s blog is idiosyncratic and always interesting. I highly recommend his series on Bad Painting. His abstract paintings combine his love of horse racing (systems of chance based on physical characteristics and possibilities) and his love of jazz (improvisation around thematic structures.) Check in when you get a chance.

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