Sunday, January 18, 2015

Professionalism and Competitiveness

So we had dinner with P. last night at her house with a few of her friends, two of whom are local Hong Kong artists who seem pretty successful, N. and a Portuguese guy, but hearing their art conversations and the way they 'sustain a practice and survive as an artist' put some things into sharp relief and perspective for me.
They're not commercial artists by any means or copouts and their work seems reasonably interesting in the kind of dominant mode and they are represented by commercial galleries and show at art fairs and I guess occasionally sell their work and it suddenly made me realize how protected and sheltered the art world I've created for myself is to the 'professionalized' art world and that, to have some sort of commercial outcome to ones work, to have a really concrete end point to the work which is some sort of market to absorb it really changes the nature of the work you'd make and the concerns you'd have. 
So a few things have become a little more clear to me after thinking about it;

i) There is a difference between the aestheticized idea of the artist as a social typology that I kind of ascribe to, a sort of aesthete, outsider, weirdo figure as opposed to the art world as a professionalized discipline, a profession amongst 'the Professions', lawyer, doctor etc. which has been constructed around the commodification of art. I have some strange allegiance to the 19th century aesthete artist figure which I think even Gillick is a part of and which appeals to me, in that he entered the art world to become concerned with the problem of art and to think about it and the production of artworks seems to be an incidental to that central problem.

ii) This idea of the artist and art world which is comfortable to me I've constructed entirely  as a fictive representation of what I want the art world to be and has no bearing whatsoever to how artists in the professionalized art world work or the way in which it operates.

iii) It became apparent to me for the first time how weird and skewed, for better or worse, this fictive art world I've constructed is. It seems based on the Romanticism of Herzog, the idea of entering the political through the personal and admiration for the adventurism of Kyungah, some anthropological methodologies, Gillick's 'discursive mode of practice' and his complete disregard for the 'work of art' in relation to the discourse he generates (have you heard him even once discuss the formal qualities of his own work or make an aesthetic judgement on anothers?) and the 19th century art historical aestheticism of RMB. 

iv) I know for a fact that RMB would expel me if I ever showed at Basel and I think one aspect of his interest and patronage is my complete and utter obliviousness to market concerns in my work and practice, though perhaps what he sees as disregard is actually complete and utter ignorance. Even though I thought I was operating in the art world, actually all along I was operating in my own personal version of it where I actually have no contact or sense of the market and the artists producing for it, things which I think all artists do as a part of their job, self-market, produce in series, produce objects and be concerned primarily with the productions of objects (whether object ideas or object objects). It became extremely clear to me that the patronage model is a market distortion which has allowed me to perpetuate a idiosyncratic, dysfunctional simulacrum of the art world for a period of time which under proper market conditions would have been rightly left to collapse under its own obsolescence and un-competitiveness.

v) I am a deeply competitive person, but so much so that I refuse to compete and if I am forced into that situation I will always rather pack my bags and walk off on my own. Which means that if, after this period of time I am forced to re-enter the marketplace I know that there is no way this model can possibly survive as its predicated on not being beholden to those considerations and can only operate within conditions where it is artificially protected and nurtured or if it becomes so self-perpetuating that the logic of the system starts to take on a reality external to myself to the extent that is recognized as a parallel system in its own right by others. To take the statist, industrial strategy model further, its seems obvious that RMB's strategy, much like the Korean governments, was to pump money into the Chaebol's like Hyundai, Samsung and LG, protect them from outside competition and direct their production and work strategies which may seem counter-intuitive and do not rely upon any comparative advantage, until they became strong enough to enter a global economy. 

vi) I have no interest whatsoever in the professionalized art world and it will have no interest in me and frankly, I'd rather give up art as such, to continue to pursue my own dilettantish interests in my own time, than to try and conform my self to its conventions. 

1 comment:

  1. Also I realized I don't have a 'professional practice', and I am wondering if there's something regressive and adolescent about not having one or resisting it, what I mean is there something kind of faulty in being a full time artist and still doing working the same way I basically did when I was 15?