For four years, photographer Gazi Nafis Ahmed has been taking pictures of the lives of workers in the Ready-Made Garment industry in Bangladesh. The resulting series, Made in Bangladesh, shows some of the grinding poverty and ever-present danger they live with every day, as well as their attempt to change those conditions.
Posts Tagged ‘art’
Molly Crabapple, “Debt and Her Debtors”
Tags: art, banks, Banksy, markets, public art, Wall Street
The controversial auction of “Slave Labour (Bunting Boy)” [ht: ja], a Banksy mural that disappeared from the wall of a north London shop in mysterious circumstances, was dramatically halted on Saturday just moments before it was due to go under the hammer.
As for the rest of the contemporary art market,
While a few high-profile crimes have brought the most egregious art world misdeeds to light, a whole host of surreptitious or underhand maneuvers – most of which are perfectly legal – remain in shadow. Notoriously unregulated, the American art market has metastasized in recent years, even as the American economy has sputtered.
And for financiers, oligarchs and other “ultra high net worth individuals”, the art world offers a spectacular two-in-one deal. In addition to reliably strong returns on investment at the very top of the market, art offers instant social prestige to people who may have already made their fortunes, sometimes in a manner not in keeping with the art world’s supposed progressive values.
At Art Basel Miami Beach this past December, several dealers publicly lamented the absence of the billionaire hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, once one of their most reliable collectors. Cohen is currently under investigation over allegations related to insider trading. The Justice Department has not pressed charges against Cohen or his firm, SAC Capital Advisors, and Cohen has always maintained that he has acted appropriately. Six employees of SAC have been convicted or pled guilty to insider trading; others have been assisting federal authorities in their investigation. . .
All of this has a direct effect on artists, and on the art they make. “The vast majority of artists are struggling, underpaid, underemployed, and under-recognized,” [artist Andrea] Fraser said. “Like the majority of workers in other fields, they feel like victims of a system over which they have no control.” Her students at UCLA, where she teaches an undergraduate course on the social and economic aspects of art, “find it pretty devastating”.
Tags: art, fetishism, finance, markets, surplus, Wall Street
Art as a commodity “appears at first sight an extremely obvious, trivial thing. But its analysis brings out that it is a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.”
Like chandelier bidding (when auctioneers begin a sale by pretending to spot bids in the room, although they are often do nothing more than pointing at the light fixtures), not posting prices in art galleries (thereby violating the “truth in pricing” law), and so on.
In this, art markets are not unlike financial markets, in which financial instruments (like private equity investments, hedge fund, collateralized debt obligations, and credit default swaps) are bought and sold as if they were commodities—and with participants exhibiting a similar aversion to any kind of externally imposed rules.
“The art world feels like the private equity market of the ’80s and the hedge funds of the ’90s,” James R. Hedges IV, a New York collector and financier, said. “It’s got practically no oversight or regulation.” . . .
“Is there any reason to believe that regulating the art market will be any more effective than regulating the financial markets has been?” asked Jonathan Brown, a professor at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. “Many of the players are identical.”
In both cases, participants act as if they’re buying and selling commodities like any other but they treat them as something special, with their own bespoke rules and elite status.
Dealers said posting prices on valuable works in an open gallery creates security concerns and disrupts an exhibition’s aesthetics by transforming artworks into commodities.
“We consider it tacky to do that,” Richard L. Feigen, a longtime dealer, said.
Others say posting prices would reduce the market’s elitism. Galleries, experts say, often choose to whom they will sell and favor good customers, especially those whose ownership will add luster to an artist’s market standing.
The fact is, neither works of art nor financial instruments are commodities—although they are bought and sold on markets, generally among the same small group of wealthy investors, who engage in conspicuous consumption and use the portions of society’s surplus they’ve captured to create further claims on that surplus.
Until it all comes tumbling down and we’re made to pay the costs.
The fetishism of art as a commodity, like that of financial instruments, arises not from the social relation of producers to the sum total of labor but, rather, from the social relation of a small elite to the sum total of surplus labor produced by others.
ECONOMY [ht: ee] is a new curatorial project examining the visibility of economic relations and their impact on everything we do—or, indeed, are.
It is being hosted, in Zone 1, at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) and Edinburgh’s Stills and, in Zone 2, online.
Tags: Antonio Frasconi, art, politics, RIP, woodcuts
Woodcut artist Antonio Frasconi died earlier this month at the age of 93.
Mr. Frasconi did not reach this pinnacle by adhering to orthodoxies. He found inspiration in comic books as well as the old masters. He decried art education, saying the average student does not learn the pertinent questions, much less the answers. He abhorred art that dwelt on aesthetics at the expense of social problems. He repeatedly addressed war, racism and poverty, and devoted a decade to completing a series of woodcut portraits of people who were tortured and killed under a rightist military dictatorship in his home country, Uruguay, from 1973 to 1985.
Note: The images above are, on the left, “The Disappeared” (1981-88) and, on the right, “The Bull (My Turn)” (1952).
Tags: art, banks, cards, CDS, crisis, games, insurance, Wall Street
The series resumes with the Seven of Clubs: Not regulating Credit Default Swaps as insurance.
Enabled high-stakes betting on company and country credit. Created interconnected web that helped bring down economy.
Tags: art, bankruptcy, banks, cards, crisis, games, Wall Street
The series continues with the Seven of Spades: 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act.
Good for bankers, bad for people. Prevents judges from discharging private student loans and other debts.
Tags: accounting, art, banks, cards, crisis, games, Wall Street
The series continues with the Eight of Hearts: Mark-to-Make-Believe.
Out and out lying about how much your instruments are worth in order to avoid looking insolvent.
Tags: accounting, art, banks, cards, crisis, games, lending, Wall Street
The series continues with the Eight of Diamonds: Extend and Pretend.
The practice of allowing businesses (but not individuals) to renegotiate defaulted loans in order to avoid taking losses on the books.