The art world is a little like a second-hand computer: its exterior a desirably minimalist, Jonathan Ive-designed casing with titanium curves and winking lights that suggests high-speed processors able to deliver any number of creative experiences at the touch of a button, its interior a mess of circuitry that has been rewired and crammed back into the casing so many times that no one can begin to understand it. And there’s no manual to tell you how it behaves – or how it ought to behave. Why there might be lacunae between expectation and experience in the art world is worth further thought. Read any mainstream newspaper or certain hand-wringing jeremiahs in the art press, and you’ll be told that market forces are to blame. Certainly money is a massive factor – capital, in order to keep itself liquid, needs to create plausible costumes in which to go about its business – but the art market does not tell the whole story. Even before the cold winds of recession began to bite, Sarah Thornton’s account of high-powered professionals in Seven Days in the Art World (2008) was felt by many to describe only a tiny part of the picture. As Sally O’Reilly wrote in her review of the book in Art Monthly: ‘To take [Takashi] Murakami as the subject of the studio visit chapter is rather like offering Turkish Delight as a typical foodstuff.’4 Only a relatively small percentage of the art world sees anything like the kind of money and glamour Thornton describes so breathlessly, and now her book seems, if not like ancient history, then at least a demonstration of how fragile the image of success built on cultural commodities can be, perhaps because she forgot that the art world also comprises audiences of all shapes, sizes and degrees of interest, producers and commentators who struggle to make a living wage, and individuals who work tirelessly in museum education departments, in community outreach programmes, in art schools, in academia or as technicians and fabricators.
Jan Kempenaers: ruined monuments
24 minutes ago