My appreciation and enjoyment of art are aesthetic rather than intellectual. I am not really concerned with what the artist means; it is not an intellectual operation – it is what I feel. – Nelson Rockefeller. From an economic standpoint, such involvement in the arts can mean direct and tangible benefits. It can provide a company with extensive publicity and advertising, a brighter public reputation, an an improved corporate image. It can build better customer relations, a readier acceptance of company products, and a superior appraisal of their quality. Promotion of the arts can improve the morale of employees and help attract qualified personnel. – David Rockefeller. The excellence of the American product in the arts has won worldwide recognition. The arts have the rare capacity to help heal divisions among our people and to vault some of the barriers that divide the world. – Richard M. Nixon. Exxon’s support of the arts serves the arts as a social lubricant. And if business is to continue in the big cities, it needs a more lubricated environment. – Robert Kingsley. But the significant thin is that increasing recognition in the business world that the arts are not a thing apart, that they have to do with all aspects of life, including business – that they are, in fact, essential to business. – Frank Stenton. Perhaps the most important single reason for the increased interest of international’s corporations in the arts is the almost limitless diversity of projects which are possible. These projects can be tailored to a company’s specific business goals and can return dividends far out of proportion to the actual investment required. – C. Douglas Dillon. [Hans Haacke “On Social Grease”]
“To see art in the manner of the revolutionary avant garde, not as institutionalized object but as practice, strategy, performance, production: all of this, once again, is grotesquely caricatured by late capitalism, for which, as Jean-François Lyotard has pointed out, the ‘performativity principle’ is really all that counts. In his The Postmodern Condition, Lyotard calls attention to capitalism’s ‘massive subordination of cognitive statements to the finality of the best possible performance’. ‘The games of scientific language’, he writes, ‘become the games of the rich, in which whoever is wealthiest has the best chance of being right.’ It is not difficult, then, to see a relation between the philosophy of J. L. Austin and IBM, or between the various neo-Nietzscheanisms of a post-structuralist epoch and Standard Oil. It is not surprising that classical models of truth and cognition are increasingly out of favour in a society where what matters is whether you deliver the commercial or rhetorical goods. Whether among discourse theorists or the Institute of Directors, the goal is no longer truth but performativity, not reason but power.” [Terry Eagleton Capitalism Modernism and Postmodernism]
As I put this post together the Dow has dropped nearly 4000 points in the last 5 days – partly because of the coronavirus, and partly because of an overinflated and corrupt economic system. It’s interesting how this disease has been tied so closely to the value of the market. And as a hostage of the power of the GCC (as we all are) I wonder – does the drop in the value of the system itself mean that artists might reconsider the aesthetics of that system? Unfortunately, that aesthetic reconsideration didn’t happen the last time this happened in 2008. By 2010 when the markets began to recover – buoyed by trillions of tax dollars poured into the global banking systems – the Modernist Zombies came marching in. GCC doubled down on the Modernist era, and typically, so did artists.
The tumbling of the Soviet empire, the authors said, might very well have been the end of old-style European imperialism, whose centralized power and awesome machineries of colonialism had regularly been unleashed against subject lands. And no sooner was this demise proclaimed than a “New World Order,” far-reaching in territorial ambition (and more encompassing), reared up in its place; this New World Order, by virtue of its linkage to globalization, opened a path to a gargantuan sovereignty whose formlessness was exactly in proportion to its capacity for totalization and mastery over vast domains of contemporary life. This sovereignty was a juridical abstraction based on the rule of law, democracy, and free-market capitalism; at its core was the authoritarian machinery of capital, and its features were omnipresent. Indeed, as delineated by Hardt and Negri—seeking as they were to quiet pervasive enthusiasm for globalization—this sovereignty was a grotesque colossus “in which the economic, the political, and the cultural increasingly overlap and invest one another.” [Okwui Enwezor, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri – On the Commons]