Tag Archives: money

SEVERE CORRECTION

20 Jan

… of the art market. What were you thinking of, you dirty wee puppy? I’ll deal with you later. No, according to a University of Luxembourg study, the international art market is in a “mania phase” and the bubble is going to pop any time soon, leading to a “severe correction”. Countdown starting right now to an art exhibition called either Severe Correction or Mania Phase.

The contemporary art market has been a very bad, bad, dirty, disobedient and thoughtless pig.

The “zombie formalist” artists (i.e. makers of art as an asset class, devoid of narrative, representation, politics, ideology, etc.) and their handlers are partly to blame, but as the gentleman who created the term rightly says, and as I have also said in a various ways over the past few years about a hundred bloody times: “Since the entire market is entirely irrational, it can’t be rationally interpreted.”

Nonetheless, it’s in the nature of financial bubbles that any talk of the bubble bursting often brings about the very same pop feared by beneficiaries of the bubble, which probably wouldn’t happen if nobody was talking about the bubble bursting… and so forth until your head bursts too.

The Guardian article also contains this nugget:

“Levin said the bubble was inflating in part due to the prevalence of high-end money laundering being done through art, and how the two have come to affect one another. Buy art in one country and pop it in the private jet, the theory goes, and by morning you’ve moved $100m between tax jurisdictions.”

Again, QED. Exactly what I’ve said on this blog and at various talks and conferences on numerous occasions, sometimes to self-righteous splutters of indignation or shocked disbelief. On this blog we know some people who might “pop” art between tax jurisdictions or run art galleries to launder their dirty money, don’t we readers?

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Won’t we all be sad though when artistically worthless art owned by super rich people becomes monetarily worthless too?

NOBLESSE OBLIGE

19 Jan

 

Chatterton 1856 by Henry Wallis 1830-1916

“Unfortunately we have no budget to pay fees or expenses.”

a-n the artists information company have just published their draft recommendations and guidance on the payments and fees that should be due from publicly funded galleries to artists. FYI I’ve worked on the Paying Artists campaign and I work for a-n sometimes. I also think artists based in the UK should have their own look at it, so I won’t offer too much commentary except to pull out:

NOBODY IS ASKING FOR MUCH

Despite stiff resistance from an insignificant and usually bonkers minority of the public and a significant minority of people who work for public arts organisations, all of whom are baffled or bitter (or both) that an artist should get paid anything… the suggested fees for artists are far from outrageous and usually amount to no more than a few thousand or even a few hundred pounds. Bear in mind that it’s rare for most artists to have more than one show per year in a publicly funded gallery in the UK. Although many public galleries do pay properly, some still don’t even clear the very low bar for pay set by these guidelines. Some don’t bother trying. And if a gallery in receipt of public funds can’t even budget to pay the equivalent of one artist’s salary for a year across all their shows– the bare minimum this guidance suggests– then they need to take a good look at their finances in general, and so should their funders.

Indeed their funders are beginning to do so, because apparently they’re exasperated too. After all, mentioning no names, it’s not unknown for very large flagship Arts Council-funded organisations *cough English National Opera… cough… Firstsite* to mismanage their finances and general governance so severely that they lose millions and have to be removed from ACE’s national regular funding portfolio with a warning they’ll be cut off permanently if they don’t sort themselves out. Nobody, including the Arts Council, wants to hear five or six figure-funded places whining about being pushed into the red if they paid artists a bit more for their work.

Even in the absence of more funding, many gallery directors or senior curators (for example) could take a pay cut they’d hardly notice to make a significant difference to the incomes of numerous artists. Obviously this is rarely a popular suggestion, or indeed a suggestion at all, when the grown ups are attending their endless round of conferences, art fair collateral events and talking head panels that no artist or self-employed arts worker could afford to attend even if they were invited, which they aren’t.

INTANGIBLE BENEFITS SHOULD STILL ACTUALLY BE BENEFITS

“Activity that is part of the gallery’s day to day work should not be treated as an in kind benefit (e.g. marketing and publicity around exhibitions.)” In other words, you don’t get to act magnanimous by offering something that you’d do anyway. So many arts organisations and venues really need to take this on board, not just in the publicly funded sector but also across all of the arts. Genuinely valuable intangible benefits do exist, but doing the job you get paid a salary to do is not an onerous burden or a favour you’re doing for your contractors, customers or audience. “We offer desk space and marketing support” is very often one short step away from the heinous “We offer exposure”, because if you employ someone to do marketing or administration then the workload they incur in the course of their jobs includes dealing with artists and other freelancers working for the organisation. And anyway, if marketing and exposure and whatnot are really worth so much money, in a contest between exposure and just having the money we’d prefer the cash in a brown envelope, please.

Funnily enough, some in the arts rely upon more or less the same dodge of intangible benefits that are so intangible they don’t really exist; i.e. that thousands of artists will do for nothing what they should be getting paid for, thereby piddling away their own bargaining power and that of artists collectively.

DEPRESSING BUT PREDICTABLE SURVEY OF THE WEEK

24 Nov

(Image via the sadly long-defunct http://lookatmyfuckingredtrousers.blogspot.co.uk )

Findings have just been published from a national survey about the working lives of cultural and creative workers in the UK. It was carried out by Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Sheffield and LSE as part of their project Panic! What Happened to Social Mobility in the Arts?

The findings provide hard evidence for the common impression that the arts sector is a closed shop where most people are middle class and it also makes revealing discoveries about how gender and ethnicity can affect a career in the arts and how higher wage earners view the sector in comparison to lower wage earners.

They’re not kidding. People who earn over £50,000 PA tend to believe it was their hard work and talent that counted, while those earning under £5,000 (over a quarter of the respondents) believe that it’s not what you know but who you know that counts. 18% of those surveyed earned only £5-15K PA; the Living Wage Foundation’s figure of £8.25 an hour for 38 hours per week, 52 weeks a year, would be £16,302 PA for a bare minimum standard of living.

76% of people working in the arts grew up with at least one parent who worked in a middle class managerial or professional occupation. 88% of arts workers did so for free at some point in their careers. 23% of men and 32% of women took part in unpaid internships. All of these findings strongly emphasise the role of the hotel and bank of mummy and daddy in launching the careers of most “hard working”, “talented” arts professionals, and the later necessity for many cultural workers to be partnered with somebody who earns a reasonable wage, because the cultural workers themselves rarely do.

In other shit news, men still earn on average 32% more than women for doing comparable jobs in the cultural industries.

More detail here, here and here.

PS I assume it’s just really bad writing on behalf of Hannah Ellis-Petersen (eponysterical QED for that typical middle class name) in The Guardian when she says that “44% of those from BAME backgrounds felt ethnicity was either “essential” or “very important” to getting ahead in the arts”. I doubt the survey authors are really suggesting that black and minority ethnic people are only given opportunities because they’re ethnic minorities, i.e. 44% of BAME people think their ethnicity was the most important aspect of their success.

RACHMAN STYLE*

13 Nov
PSY-gangnam-style-33209760-1320-743

Ehhhhhh… nasty landlord.

(* Link for those too young and/or too not from London to get this reference.)

South Korean pop star PSY, of Gangnam Style infamy, is not only trying to force an artist-led organisation out of a building he owns in the gentrifying Hannamdong neighbourhood of Seoul (so he can renovate it, presumably for higher rents) but has also launched defamation lawsuits against four of the artists for publicising his actions and criticising him. Don’t like going viral quite so much when it doesn’t flatter you, Mr Park?

Of course this is just one of many instances of the same crap that is happening in London and in other major cities in the developed world; as the rich get richer and the poor get punished, artists, the low paid and even reasonably well-salaried key workers like nurses and teachers are being exiled from the cities where they’re particularly needed and supposedly wanted while urban cores become little more than desolate stacks of steel and glass investment boxes for the Haves.

All this came to my attention via a story at Hyperallergic about an unspeakably ghastly KRW 418 million (£236,800 or $361,000) Gangnam Style sculpture planned for the eponymous district of Seoul. Somebody should tell these property developers that viral YouTube hits are often really hard to explain even at the time, let alone in a few years when everyone will be saying “Si who? Horse riding hands? What?”

Talking of PSY and WTF-ness, it is perhaps telling that Amnesty International appear to have deleted the page on their site that formerly pertained to the Gangnam for Freedom video made in 2012 by Anish Kapoor and Friends [sic… obviously he doesn’t have any friends]. You can watch it if you like. I can’t watch it again. I just can’t. It’s so embarrassing it makes my whole face invert and my testicles retract all the way up into my lungs. The Chinese government was obviously rocked by Kapoor and overpaid staff members from irrelevant 1% bauble galleries like the Serpentine and MoMA dancing like toddlers to a novelty record about chatting up an attractive woman* and that’s why they immediately let Ai Wei Wei and other people who are actually serious dissidents out of… oh, wait. No they didn’t. THEY DIDN’T GIVE A SHIT AND JUST KEPT ON OPPRESSING ARTISTS, JOURNALISTS, ACTIVISTS AND AUTHORS WITH COMPLETE IMPUNITY.

And now the video is overlaid with the irony that PSY accuses artists who criticise him of libel and takes them to court.

(I know, by the way, that Kapoor and Friends were responding to a video by Ai Wei Wei which also (mis)used Gangnam Style… his video was also lame, embarrassing and demonstrated a high schooler’s level of political and artistic sophistication.)

UPDATE, December 2015:

Über-LOL at the video– which had been there since 2012, mostly unseen and always unloved– mysteriously disappearing within a few weeks of me blogging about it. I think people still don’t believe me when I say that the art world top table grownups read this blog, but they are totally hate-reading it all the time. Although ultimately I think it’s better if nobody else ever has to watch the video because it’s so sphincter-puckeringly ghastly, I also can’t help feeling it’s a shame the video is gone now. Thanks for reading, though, Big A! Keep on dancing like you forgot what arms are, you dotty old thing.

(More GIFs from the video here.)

JustNo

(* English translation of the Gangnam Style lyrics. Why bother using an instrumental version– which exists, because I checked– to avoid conflicting messages, when lyrics like these go so perfectly with a protest about freedom of speech? The answer is that Anish Kapoor and Friends are intellectual pygmies and hacks, probably.

Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now lets go until the end

Uncle is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Uncle is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Uncle is Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady, Uncle is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

A girl who looks quiet but plays when she plays
A girl who puts her hair down when the right time comes
A girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all
A sensible girl like that

I’m a guy
A guy who seems calm but plays when he plays
A guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comes
A guy who has bulging ideas rather than muscles
That kind of guy.)

PROFUNDITY, PROVENANCE, PROFIT

7 Oct

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Profundity

RipeForPlucking

Shush

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