▼ Report: The Cynical Twists Of Jerry Saltz
“Tea-bagging bloggers”, art critic Jerry Saltz recently wrote on his facebook page, “who constantly call for rules to be imposed on the terrible dirty backroom corrupt craven money-besmirched awful art world are, at heart, at heart, cynical.”
Cynicism is not critiquing the art market, as critic Jerry Saltz maintains. Critique’s flaw is idealism, if that is a flaw. Saltz mourns the loss of his own idealism. Cynicism is letting yourself be complicit to the deadening of art: social power games, celebrity culture, the loss of critical thought. Critique of commercial art practices is not synonymous with being cynical. It is belief in art beyond it’s luxury value.
Saltz is not alone in his belief that art is a corporate industry; has always been a commodity; benefits from economic deregulation; benefited from the last decade’s commercial bubble.
The notion that everything including art is now a commodity in our era of hyper-capitalism is a notion the commercial art world co-opted from Baudrillard. Guess what? Baudrillard’s wish was for art to become just another commodity because his ultimate wish was the collapse of western culture. He wanted art to die as a commodity.
Art is not alive in a capitalist space. Imagining a democratic space for art begins with questions. The commercial art world is not listening to its future space. There is a standard retort in the art world: critique of the commercial system is bitter, cynical, naive. Saltz is only imitating the cliched defense, which is not the rhetoric of an often repeated debate, but is an insult silencing the possibility of critique.
It is not cynical to write: the commercial art world pretends liberalism but practices Machiavellian domination. Or to write: the possibility does not exist for ideas or experimentation in a business model that has become an industry. There are great compelling artists in the art industry. The industry’s context is not presenting their ideas with life, because there is no life in a department store or in a convention hall.
It is not cynical to describe the commercial art world as a force of simulated business drones kidnapping visionary wolves from the woods and teaching them the ways of the sheep inside. Cynicism is complicity. Bitterness is a loss of an ethical center. Naivety is belief in the glamor of a corporate hologram.