Krzysztof Fijalkowski - Situating Art Practice

Fijalkowski's lecture was an interesting one. Some of it resonated directly to the Provocations debate I'm in the middle of planning on appropriation. Other stuff echoed around some of the things I read a few years ago in terms of commodification and the economics of art. There was a lot of information here. A lot of questions to consider too, grist for the mill that is the asynchronous seminar.

  • What is the "art world" and who controls it?
  • How does art relate to value and economy?
  • Is making art a practice, a system or an industry?

These questions are the start of the Value - driver of the art world forum discussion. I've set things rolling with:

Just to kick things off, I suppose there are a number of things that are at play.

Commodity value (art is without doubt a commodity that is traded, just like stocks and shares) is what is important, rather than use value (ok, it can be nice to look at for a while) or production value (cost of materials and time).

To give art a use value, it would be low. What's the difference between an original and a reproduction? In terms of photographic art, is there even an original? If a print was made by Cartier-Bresson, and has a CoA, is it really any different to a mass produced copy in terms of "use"? No, it's not. The same goes for the production costs, with a slight variation for economies of scale. The photographic print in its own right is a fairly low value item. What is of value is the name, the authenticity provided by the CoA, the exclusiveness... the owner becomes important because they own... self gratification...

Of course, some items are different, the above is a crass simplification. Hirst's platinum and diamond skull clearly has material worth in the parts, etc.

Then there's economic determinism - supply and demand and the desire for more of the same...

Where do I sit...? hmmmm. Of course there's a bit of the "collector" in me, it's human nature. I don't have the money to make any inroads into that desire. Will I feed anyone else's? I'm not sure, but I can dream...

It's not a direct answer to the questions above, but a response to the start of the seminar. We'll see where that leads.

In Fijalkowski's notes there was a list of actors on the art world stage. None of them are totally surprising, but it's worth listing them again, just to let them sink in...

  • Artists
  • Dealers
  • Museums and galleries
  • Art fairs and Biennales
  • Collectors
  • Critics, curators and historians
  • Auction houses
  • Magazines and publishing
  • Audiences
  • Funding bodies, local, regional, national and international networks.

Above all though, you have to remember that art can be absolutely anything, it just needs conceptualisation, contextualisation, strategies and some form of organisation...

More will undoubtedly follow over the coming weeks.
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