Tag Archives: 1%

SAVE £40 ON FRIEZE TICKETS

20 Apr

21.-ops.-Scrooge-McDuck.-Azizonomics

… every single year, guaranteed… BY NOT GOING.

I’m severely late on this one, because Frieze Art Fair [sic] was last October and at the time I was far too fucking busy touring Japan and having an amazing, inspiring time in the midst of the most staggering beauty to even think about paying £40 to be milked by a loathsome trade fair for oligarchs, blood money gold diggers and other moneyed Eurotrash, even if I’d been in London at the time. However, this is an excellent– and dare I say even Career Suicidesque– response rant by Morgan Quaintance to Frieze’s jaw-droppingly unironic and egregious discussion panel entitled Off Centre: Can Artists Still Afford to Live in London? During a ticketed fair where a person earning minimum wage would have to work for nearly six hours to afford the admission price, and putting your coat or bag in the cloakroom costs a fiver. Not to mention that most people who work in the arts already know the answer, which can be found in the thousands of artists and other creative people, and key workers like teachers, who have been forced to leave the capital to stand any chance of making ends meet.

This talk is also evidence of what I mentioned in a recent post with regard to artist livelihoods being a taboo and unfashionable subject when I started talking about it seven or eight years ago. People who ran art galleries or arts organisations were often absolutely baffled and speechless at any suggestion they talk about how money flows through the system– and particularly how it doesn’t often flow to artists in any significant quantities– but now even the likes of Frieze see benefits (undoubtedly self-serving ones, as Quaintance also points out) in talking about the subject, or at least being seen to talk about it.

It’s well documented that I despise Frieze magazine and their trade (not art) fair, both of which are festering sores on the face of genuine art and an affront to everything I hold dear, and I know I’m very well accompanied in that, but it’s nice to have a co-pilot who says things like this:

[The talk] tipped the uneasy balance between finance and art to a position that felt entirely more exploitative, offensive and grotesque. Put simply, the instrumentalisation and commodification of hardship took things a step too far.”

And:

“Is there something base about using the human fallout that comes from the pursuit of capital to excuse and make the pursuit of capital more attractive?”

McDuck

He also torpedoes the infuriating, traitorous and intellectually lazy response of many apologists for the toxic sea of Panama-flavoured money in which some directors of public galleries, commercial gallerists and artists float their rotten boats, the “all money is dirty” brigade who generally only say so because they never earned or received a penny in their lives that didn’t come from dodgy sources and at the cost of somebody else’s suffering, oppression or exploitation.

“… the relentless spread of alienating neoliberal practices throughout the capital are what makes this all difficult to stomach. But the fact that it is easy for others to swallow makes me think that there are, at present, two consciousnesses operating in the British art world: one that is happy to ignore the art world’s possible complicity with the wretched socio-cultural, economic and political state of things and another that finds it distressing, disturbing and debilitating to do so.”

Distressed, disturbed and debilitated here, in case you were still in any doubt.

Frieze Art Fair: the monetization of your misery?

ArtWorldDickheadsE_Hughes

PIGGIES

8 Apr

monopoly man

When I and a few enlightened colleagues started talking about the art world and money in about 2009, hardly anybody was interested and we were very often asked why we bothered. Within a few years, nearly every agency and artist-facing organisation was talking about artists, art and money if they had any sense. The mainstream art magazines like Frieze still don’t talk about it very much except in a celebratory way, as if there’s nothing at all problematic about the whole high-end art scene, because their reason for being and their main income is from courting the (rich) hand that feeds or fists at its own whim.

Likewise, I have asserted for many years that the real story at the top end of the art world is not how bad, irrelevant and vapid most of the art and most of its suppliers are– don’t get me wrong, they are all of these things and we need to expose and talk about that– but instead the main issue is that the art world is inextricably tied up with the tax evasion, money laundering, international subversion of the rule of law, and a general lack of common human decency, all of which are impoverishing and holding back 99% of the world’s population. No rich person is unique, above the herd or entirely self-made, no matter how much they might like to think they are. They benefit from the physical and electronic infrastructure, education, labour, subsidy, policing, bureaucracy (and so on) provided in one way or another by every state in the world; in some ways, and in some countries in particular, rich people benefit from these things even more than an ordinary person. Rich art collectors, dealers and superstar artists are for the most part parasites on all of the aforementioned and upon publicly funded art institutions and galleries, not to mention the grass roots, unfunded artist initiatives that in turn feed into these institutions. And yet it’s still not enough. They want it all.

And so we come to the Mossack Fonseca leak, which can hardly have escaped anybody’s notice. Surprise! The documents are full of evidence about how the 1% use the buying and selling of art to dodge taxes, launder money and commit crime.

The founder of China Guardian, the world’s fourth largest auction house, is hiding money offshore along with many other members of the country’s political elite.

Russian oligarchs defrauding one another through buying and selling paintings.

No doubt there will be more and worse as the data is sifted and processed. This really feels like one of those points in history where there could be real reform or it could be heads on sticks time. In either case I don’t think we should leave the choice up to the 1% rich, because we already know perfectly well that their choice will be status quo and neither of the above.

Bonus venal, overprivileged twat caught with her hand in the till:

To avoid a full trial, the former managing director of the Centre Pompidou admits to misusing public funds after spending €40,000 on unnecessary taxi journeys. Interesting that the French slant on this is that she is a civil servant because she worked for a publicly funded institution. Absolutely fucking bang on: work for a publicly funded gallery? You are a civil servant, even if you’re not officially a civil servant. You work for the people. Remember that.

DEGENERATION AREA

31 Jul

monopoly manVia artist Mimei Thompson on the F***book, news of a property developer soon to be bulldozing over a hundred artist studios near Hackney Road in London. They’ll be replaced by a twenty storey tower with “workspace” (whatever that is) and 170 homes including “a number of affordable”. Britain’s cities and towns desperately need more and better housing accessible to everyone regardless of their income, but we all know what the “number” of affordable units will be: as few as possible, probably with a separate door so the poors don’t rub their poor all over the investment/money laundering boxes of all the Chinese, Russian and Arab one percenters who are just about the only people who can buy these places. Affordable is a laughably– and conveniently– ill-defined and slippery developers’ term anyway.

Don’t worry, though, the loss of this artist community (who stupidly, inconveniently brought life to a rundown area and made it attractive to developers in the first place) will not go unmarked. The developers and Eastside Educational Trust are offering a princely £1000 sculpture prize. “The winning artist will receive funds to make their sculpture, as well as a £1,000 cash prize, and the exciting chance to have their piece exhibited as a public work of art.” It’s probably not conscious, but note that they avoid the word “work” in favour of the word “piece”. The page linked here gives the number of new homes as “over 200”. An attempt to contact them about the prize met with– oops or not oops?– an out of office autoreply stating that the person responsible wouldn’t be back until the second week of August. That’s how bothered they are in whether artists actually apply for it or not, anyway. UPDATE: See below.

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