[-empyre-] FW: value for money?

I am forwarding this post from Sean Cubitt to the Crumb list , where there
is a good conversation going on t about economics of art, as it seems quiet
Hope you don't mind being distributed Sean

------ Forwarded Message
From: Sean Cubitt <scubitt@UNIMELB.EDU.AU>
Reply-To: Sean Cubitt <scubitt@UNIMELB.EDU.AU>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2007 16:19:04 +1100
Subject: Re: value for money?

it is indeed, as Patrick said, a great conversation

I guess people have already read George Yudice's superb book on The
Expediency of Culture. But it's worth recalling the problem he starts
with: that today in order to secure funding it is not enough to say you
are going to do something cultural. You have to supply an economic
argument, that there will be a short and preferrably a long-term
benefit from your activities. And a social result - that you will be
supplying some of the welfare, physical or psychological or
community-building, that has otherwise been trampled on and to some
dstroyed in the market liberalisations and neo-liberal de-
/ deregulation and destruction of the welfare state. And you wll
supply a
moral result which replaces the old religions but must not offer
solutions, revolutionary or Islamic - an ethics without ethics, which is
kinda hard to achieve in its own right. If possible it should improve
tourism and inward investment by offering (I have heard this verbatim in
at least two countires tho i don't know the source they probably shared)
'something for the corporate wife'. Much curatorial work is framed by
institutional funding imperatives of audience development, something for
the old, the young, the disenfranchised, the marginal and the huge
who don't attend art events (a demand nopt quite unique but rarely
required of non-cultural orgnisations).

Not surprisingly, so burdened, culture loses the central imperative
to do
something cultural. And it becomes increasingly difficult to either
find a
precise or at least workable definition of culture as creativity; or to
find a rationale comprehensible to anyone other than the
beni=ficiaries of
the grant-aid system or the art economy for art-making as a pursuit
undertaking in its own right.

The idea that the level of art activity and participation is a
measure of
'civilisation' risks being pure PR for social formations with the barest
qualification for the term 'civilised' (treatment of indigenous people,
tent cities, invasion after invasion of developing nations  . . . ).

When democracy, truth, justice and freedom are ashes in the mouths of
Bush, Howard and your least favourite politicians, is it possible to
a case that these are the resources that art brings? And that
neo-conceptualist and shock-jock art does anything like that?

To quote Bjork, I believe in beauty. We know that beauty is often a lie;
that any commercial, any porn flick, can claim the beauty we might claim
for art; an that refining what we mean by the word is likely to
result in
alienating anyone whose idea of beauty is dissimilar, populist. The
poet Joh Montague has a poem called the Pursuit of beauty where he
dscribes quite lvingly a farmer who lugs home a concrete swan he has
bought for five bob in the market.

Is it about the things / actions; or is it about enabling the
richness of
experience of that farmer?

There are already works in the new media field which, like Bert Brecht's
plays, are crowd-pleasers _and_ go on producing ideas, experiences,
emotions, sensations that you never had before. And, in Robert Lowell's
phrase, 'commence in delight and end in wisdom'. Koons loots the
supermarkets of pop culture for the delectation of Manhattan socialites.
Brecht loots the glories of the Western Tradition for the benefit of
factory workers. Ditto Mayakovsky and Eisenstein. Though I disagree with
relatonal Aesthetics, Bourriaud seesm to be doing this kind of work
at the
Palais de Tokyo.

New media arts can be as well-crafted as The Matrix, as emotionally
satisfying as Deadwood, as intellectually stimulating as Simon
Sharma, and
more so, _and_ offer that multi-levelled experience that allows you to
come back again and again to the work for all those things, and find
new. Curation is the art of placing works in dialogue so that even
more is
revealed (unconcealed?). To get those audiences, we just have to make
shows that are more fascinaing than Liverpool FC, Gnarls Barkly and

Long live neo-populism!

Sean Cubitt
Media and Communications Program
Faculty of Arts
Room 127 John Medley East
The University of Melbourne
Parkville VIC 3010

Tel: + 61 3 8344 3667
Fax:+ 61 3 8344 5494
M: 0448 304 004
Skype: seancubitt
Web: www.mediacomm.unimelb.edu.au

Editor-in-Chief Leonardo Book Series

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