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OUR READER ‘MIKE’ SAYS:

‘I have just read your postregarding the demise of galleries due to art fairs and digital media, and then I read this post. I am not sure who the joke is on, but I know that I am not laughing.

Are the “artists” who are selling this nonsense to “collectors” who don’t seem to have any awareness or sensitivity to visual work in on the joke? I think so. The joke is that it’s not art, and if you think it is, then you are most definitely on the “outside”. This is conspicuous consumption of culture, which has only one condition, that it be “new”. If you are looking for any sort of “art” that might fulfil any sort of societal function beyond prestige items for the absurdly wealthy or masturbatory expressions of “self”, then you are not really getting what “art” is nowadays. “Art” is a game of chicken. You buy it and hope to sell it before the artist’s value goes down. You buy it to prove you have the money to be on the Inner Circle of the global wealthy.

I would like to speak to artists who are at the beginning of their career now. You have two choices as I see it. One is to sell your anal sphincter for cash by producing a “thing” that those who have money can play with, and perhaps you will “make it” and have enough cash to buy the salve for your sore bottom. Good for you.

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Or, you can choose a more humble route, which is to observe your community, make images/objects that your community can read (i.e. you speak their visual language because you cared enough to learn what that is for your immediate community), and you are addressing issues that your immediate community is concerned with. You are exposing what is good and worth keeping, and you may also be exposing what is wrong or in need of change. The bottom line is that you are relevant to your community. After doing this, you may start to observe that the microcosm is the macrocosm, and your work may even have a broader appeal, but each cultural context is different, and therefore, you need to observe any new environment you intend to show in, as the visual language and issues will be different than your immediate environment.

Artists learn a set of skills (actually they don’t these days, but they should) that teach them how to see over a long period of time, to observe, and then they should craft significant work that addresses the issues of that community. This is how artists can be relevant. This is what it means to be an artist.

The crap that is on display in this post is not art. It’s a game where a person sells something that is new to someone who has enough cash to say, “Okay, I will buy this to be seen as someone who is on the frontier of the new” They are investing in their self-image, not in the art.

On a related note, if galleries disappeared, it may actually be a good service to artists. They might have to engage the public in their studios and actually see what society demands of them. It seems to me that people today demand too little from their government, from their banks, from their artists, and from each other.

We are living in a time of great change, and I hope beyond all hope that artists will choose a humbler path of fulfilling societal obligations to explore the balance between personal freedom and the health of the species.

As it is now, it seems to me that children are running the game and the adults are sitting back saying, “Oh he/she is so precocious, but it will all work out in the end…”