Too Dubai

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach — a feeling that America just isn’t rising to the greatest economic challenge in 70 years. The best may not lack all conviction, but they seem alarmingly willing to settle for half-measures. And the worst are, as ever, full of passionate intensity, oblivious to the grotesque failure of their doctrine in practice. Paul Krugman NY TImes Editorial

Look, I value the constructive criticism and healthy debate that is a foundation of American democracy. I don’t think any of us have cornered the market on wisdom, or that good ideas are the province of any party. The American people know that our challenges are great. They’re not expecting Democratic solutions or Republican solutions – they want American solutions. And I have said that to those who have criticized the plan.
But what I have also said is – don’t come to table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped create this crisis.
We’re not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that in eight short years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin. We can’t embrace the losing formula that offers more tax cuts as the only answer to every problem we face, while ignoring critical challenges like our addiction to foreign oil, the soaring cost of health care, failing schools and crumbling bridges, roads and levees. I don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV – if you’re headed for a cliff, you have to change direction. President Barak Obama

The contemporary art market, with its abiding reputation for foggy deals and puffy values, is a vulnerable organism, traditionally hit early and hard by economic malaise. That’s what’s happening now. Sales are vaporizing. Careers are leaking air. Chelsea rents are due. The boom that was is no more. Holland Cotter The Boom is Over Long Live the Art

Right now, what’s going to work is something their customer doesn’t have in her closet and that has a real intrinsic sense of value. …Because to be honest there’s been too much product, too much copy-catting, and, probably too much consumerism. I think a sense of clarity, a sense leveling off and a sense of reality is needed. Anna Wintour

These quotes from players in the economic, political and cultural worlds let us know that something big is happening. Many of us are beginning to realize that the times are definitely a-changin’. Doesn’t matter what part of culture you reside in these days its all about coming up with something to fix the mess. I guess we are heralding in the era of the big idea. Unfortunately in our Art World there hasn’t been an idea, a really new idea, in decades. At least not one that changed anything about art, and the thought that a big idea is needed is starting to scare the pants off of those without a clue. Change can be a scary mother, man. Let’s face it – after we accepted the security of a corporatized art world we signed away any rights for real change. In order to fit in to the economic mix our art market became very adept at appearing to be legit to the equestrian investor classes. “Art as an investment” has been the mantra for so long that we actually began to believe our own hype. Christ, there are still art blogs and web sites offering feel good lessons on how to market your work, what your slide portfolio, web sight, business card and go-to-meetin’ attire should look like. These business hucksters are even advising artists on how to ingratiate themselves to the powers that be. But that sort of Barnes and Noble “self-help” crap just doesn’t cut it anymore. You won’t find any ideas coming out of a consultant’s mouth, least of all, an idea that might challenge the entrenched. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is stable at the moment and all those fixed ideas about markets, careers and “success” are all in flux. The so-called power brokers don’t have much power any longer, if they ever did. In fact they only had the power we gave them. In any case, the old ways, the actions that brought us to this moment just won’t cut it any longer – “don’t come to table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped create this crisis” indeed!

But sometimes you just gotta love a POMO. Leave it to Anna Wintour to nail down this particular moment with this simple and devastating phrase – “I don’t think anyone is going to want to look overly flashy, overly glitzy, too Dubai, whatever you want to call it.” At least not in the institutional old ways – we will make our own flash!

4 thoughts on “Too Dubai

  1. “Let’s face it – after we accepted the security of a corporatized art world we signed away any rights for real change.”

    But, who is we ? 90 % of worldwide artists I guess did not take part anyway in the boom since 2001. For me the corporatized art world is a horror, even can not hear and see the fucked word “art” anymore.

    But, between all the rubbish and fake stuff I think it had been made good works as well in the last years, do not expect from a painting too much, it won’t make an Revolution, it’s just an painting, that can be hanged away and put in some cellar.

    I hope artists soon have more powerful tools to shape art and society, thats a bit the breaking point, the artist can do either this or that, but not really both (the dilemma of the Russion Futurists, see Boris Groys)

    Best regards and have some fun with the crisis,

    from Central Asia, Hans

  2. Hey Hans!
    You’re absolutely right, most all of us did not benefit from the “art boom”, but the truth is most all of us were complicit in the system itself. One can not participate in the art world without some responsibility for the way it looks. I loathe the institutionalization of Art, but I have no illusions about the institutions’ power over artists, and how we, as artists, continue to interact within those constructs whether we agree with them or not. Most of us subscribe to art magazines, we go to galleries, we attend openings, fairs, museums, go to panel discussions etc. Additionally, many artists have uploaded and participate on Saatchi’s web site – all of those thousands are also complicit and part of that system. Their tacit approval of Saatchi’s power impacts the “value” of his collection and that plays into the auction market etc etc. I am no better, I am a part of this online art magazine which stands in opposition to the powers that guide those constructs.

    Whether I like it or not all of these things make me responsible – and I accept that responsibility – for the way the art world looks and how it behaves. Because I don’t like the constructs I am fighting to change them. We fight for what we love because we want it to exist, to live, to thrive. Whether anyone got paid or not doesn’t even factor into it. I participated, I continue to try to participate. Change starts with one’s willingness to see the situation clearly and accept one’s role in that situation. Change also begins with simple actions, in belief and in creating your own power. If one doesn’t offer anything other than what has been or what is expected – then one is not changing anything – one is accepting the system.

    Keep up the wonderful work you’re doing on the Art Club and continue to post your ideas and your paintings! They may not change the world, but they may change someone’s mind!

    Best to you,

  3. PS on “Post Human” just found this statement:

    “Human life is a cheap commodity these days, despite the protestations of political and religious rhetoric to the contrary. We go on and on about human rights and human dignity and the “sanctity of human life,” and we continue act otherwise. Those same people who so loudly insist (and hope to legislate for us all) that a 2 celled zygote is as fully human as a 60 year old grandmother are usually the first to oppose any legislation that would make it easier to raise already born viable children; paid family leave, national health insurance, any government subsidy for the health or education of children is dismissed as just so much “socialism.”

    by Counterlight


    Best regards, H

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