Current Issue!/Issue-1-Fall-2015/p/53931550/category=0


London, Paris, New York, Milan, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Palo Alto – art is moving faster than capital like a god wind that no-one can stop let alone control. Meanwhile a lot of art writing and ‘critical theory’ is stuck in the comfort zone of the 70-90s when there actually was an avant garde or subculture.

For art writing to get back on track it needs to shake out of this nostalgia and start engaging with the nuances of what is going on by covering the new breeds of involvement that have emerged since 2009 – the new sincerities and ironies, the more subtle art practices and social variations of market participation that have developed to deal with the institutional grip. For some time an aesthetic suspension of disbelief helped to provide an alibi that allowed us to participate as if we did believe the market was the key to “validation”, but then quickly vanished into feelings of depression after any agency seemed like an impossibility. As the contradictions got wider, different problems have emerged such as whether art is concurrent with the transitional moments of our present culture or technology, or whether art altogether has reached its informational limit.

The art world has slowly transitioned from modernist pretensions that seem like delusional excuses to the public, to developing a new sensibility – one of silent, shared communion, retributions and confessions. It has taken the step into a reality that is more in keeping with the real world of business, design and branding than creating stark ‘alternatives’. Beyond short-term pragmatism and adaptability, how can artists aesthetically work alongside their authentic desire to participate in a logic of the market that by necessity must scale? How can we realistically judge the work of art institutions if they are frozen into following instrumental logics rather than relevance? With the availability of information online, there is no way these logics are not transparent to a committed internet user.

Narratives like these happened in Pop Music years ago. Just as the Music Industry had to face up to its own protocols, the Art Industry needs to be judged on its changing developments; the ways art is being used as a financial instrument, art’s new marketing techniques, art as representation of different sociological interests, art as access to power, status, fame, participation and the rest of it. Until art writing gets really into these driving forces, it won’t be able to say anything interesting about art. It also won’t be able to grow or be writing that anyone really wants to read.

Art Against Art marks a turning point – the one that says by breaking from the overbearing logic of what seems like an inevitability, we can get closer to the conceptualizations we would like society to experience but don’t.

The Editors


p. 9...........................Editorial

p. 11..........................Marion Maneker - Art is Not an Asset, It’s a Reserve Currency

p. 15..........................Ben Vickers - Strange Objects and Their Discontents

p. 24.........................Martin G Fuller - A Sociology of Art for Artists

p. 32.........................Steven Shaviro - Feed

p. 36.........................Taslima Ahmed - Left to the Mercy of Roussel

p. 47..........................Image spread by Michael Farin

p. 56.........................Roberto Ohrt - Needle and Balloon

p. 64.........................Manuel Gnam - Centralization and Globalization of Art leading to One
                                Global Hierarchy That Creates Less Options and Forms a Function of
                                Limited Growth

p. 71..........................Carles - Creativity vs. Scalability

p. 82.........................Artist edition by Megan Marrin

Marion Maneker

Art is Not an Asset, It’s a Reserve Currency

If the art market can be measured in semesters with Fall commencing the selling year in Europe and the United States, followed by a brief pause after ArtBasel Miami Beach in December and recommencing in February for a frenzied march through the marquee sales of May and June, the 2015 season opened into what seemed to be a turning point in global fortunes. Emerging markets, so influential in the growth of the art market since 2006, entered a sustained downturn raising serious questions about the long-term health of the art market.

With such an overwhelming sense of uncertainty pervading global markets, it might be worth taking a moment to look back on the period since the global financial crisis and suggest an alternative view of what is powering the growth of the art market.

Conventional wisdom has said... [buy]

Martin Fuller

Sociology of Art for Artists

Don’t worry: this isn’t yet another ‘sociology of the art world’.
Sven Lütticken on Lane Relyea’s Your Everyday Art World (2013)

Sociology and art do not make good bedfellows.
Pierre Bourdieu Sociology in Question (1993) p. 344

This essay seeks to identify a problem, trace some of its contours and make some proposals. The problem is that the sociology of art and art writing continue to be perceived as uncomfortable with one another. The sociology of art is often perceived as out of touch. A few of the reasons are outlined below, but it is often overlooked that perhaps this is because sociological ideas have become increasingly integrated into the art world – informing modes of art writing and art making. From this perspective, the accounts of art systems, fields or art worlds that sociologists of art favour seem to forget that these concepts are often already embedded in the things we aim to study. In this short essay, I outline one way that art writing seems to have embraced a sociological imagination, while outlining modes of the sociology of art that seem out of touch. Sociologists have historically aimed to reveal market contradictions in art, but these are no longer particularly well hidden, instead they are part of the knowable, everyday conditions facing artists. Many artists reject the idea of an autonomous art world outside the powers of the market, but instead, market contradictions form a pre-given condition in which they must... [buy]

Manuel Gnam

Centralization and Globalization of Art leading to One Global Hierarchy That Creates Less Options and Forms a Function of Limited Growth

Over the past few years art has again transitioned into something new. Not new as a formal or conceptual idea, but new on the parameters upon which it is getting produced and only from those parameters changing its forms and concepts. The economic and social factors that are intertwined with this development are too many and too broad to list, but it might be interesting to mention the cultural shift to one single global hierarchy built on financial growth and how that correlates with the accessibility of all information at all times. The resulting centralization and quantification have an effect on the overall ability to distinguish oneself from another. And it lead to a change in consumer behavior and that again changed the way information is packaged. Not at all surprisingly this created a more and more homogenous “art-world”.

The interest of this article lies in finding out how art looks like when... [buy]