Saturday, April 28, 2012

Art and Politics

Politics is about power relationships. Art is related to politics as well since it is capable of becoming political by its own or by the volition of culture, changing via the process from Art to History. All art as it becomes known becomes political as well regardless of the intent of the artist. When art becomes useful and relevant to culture and society in general, it becomes History. Elsewhere in my blog I have commented that maintaining a sophisticated stance above or outside of things is also taking sides, for such indifference and aloofness is automatically a support of the ruling class. A great number of artists quite consciously support the bourgeois system, since it is within that system that their work sells. Irrespective of the 'avant-garde' or 'conservative', 'rightist' or 'leftist' position art institutions might assume, they remain always a carrier of socio-political connotations. The policies of publicly financed institutions are obviously subject to the discretion of the governmental cultural division, whereas privately funded institutions showcase the predilections and interests of their patrons. In order to have an idea about the forces that elevate certain products to the level of 'works of art', it is indispensable to look into the economic, the selective and political underpinnings of the institutions, individuals and groups who participate in the control of cultural power. Artists as much as their supporters and their enemies, no matter of what ideological affiliation, are unwitting partners in the art-syndrome and relate to each other dialectically. Holding the strings from above we find the administrators, dealers, critics, curators, pundits, gallery staff, etc. These contributors, who were once considered the neutral servants of art, have now become its masters. They gradually consolidated their role in administering the artists' pure manifestations of freedom and in transforming them into commodities with a pricetag on the media-market. This is a mode of existence in which most artists accept to become subbordinates to the blind urge to production-consumption; their work becomes subject to scrutiny, assessment and administration by those who are close to the sources of control in the market hierarchy. The products change and selections occur continuously, but the process remains the same: the ruling market sets the standard of intelligibility. The ever-increasing promotion of an avant-gardist elite has successfully reduced unnecessary competition, if not eliminating it altogether. Undoubtedly, the 'permanent revolution' in art orchestrated by the market is actively designed never to fulfil any social ideals. Contrarily, the market system seems to predilect the celebration of the new individuality, arrogantly set against the idea of sociality. What used to be the production for a privileged middle-class, contemporary art has gradually transformed itself into a spectacularly elitist production, remote even from its own producers' actual lives and personal problems.