Covent Garden, London. Street Performance.

If I was asked the question, “What do you think about the Art Market?” I would answer with exactly the same words Ghandi used, when he was asked about the Western Civilization: ‘I think that would be a good idea.’
As I look out there, I can’t see such a thing as an Art Market.
What we generally call the Art Market is nothing but the commodification of a creative activity.
The only way to sell a work of art is to deprive it of all artistic values and invest it with another value, namely a value that can be quantified into a monetary form, not the intrinsic artistic value of the work of art.
In fact the Art Market as we know it is just a peripheral activity of the wider market of goods. For this reason it assumes the same rules and as consequence has the same effect: a mere 1% of the artists in that market attract 99% of the capital available to the Arts, and that includes art organisations, or better ‘clerical organisations’, that filter the monies available to the Arts.
So, what can we do about it?
In 2009 I came up with the New Futurist Manifesto published by the St.Ives Times in Echo exactly 100 years after the publication of the original Futurist Manifesto written by Tommaso Marinetti.
The New Futurist Manifesto was widely ignored, the fate of all revolutionary ideas not supported by a movement.
However, the manifesto is still valid, as we are still awaiting to the New avant-garde of the 21st century to happen.
If Futurism was focusing on dynamism within the work of art, The New Futurist focuses on the dynamism of the work of art. The idea is to abandon the existing, narrow minded so-called arts market to itself and to whoever wants to play the monopoly game with it. Simply abandon it, as we do with space-junk. Instead, lets divert our attention to a brand new market, bypassing manipulative arts organisations and national and private galleries. Lets communicate directly to the users, avoiding the politicised money spinners at the Art Council and the super sponsored galleries.
In other words what the proposal of the New Futurism is, as artists, instead of aspiring to climb the pyramid of the star system lets cut the head (or poke the eye) of the pyramid and move horizontally by creating from scratch new systems.
This is the new avant-garde: the activity of creating new systems of distribution and exchanges, of works of art.
Accelerating the circulation of the work of art is now imperative, because the actual system is slowing down or even blocking the circulation at its source.
How many works of art are stuck in artist’s studios and warehouses deprived of light and the sense of potential audiences? Why are we denying a vast number of potential users access to this massive creative resource? The reason is very simple and I’m explaining it with a simple example. If gold was widely accessible, like pebbles lets say, it wouldn’t have any monetary value, and we all agree on this. So if we decide to devalue the 1% of work of art in the hands of rich public or private collectors they would all lose a lot of money, and they don’t like that. That’s why they strongly grab onto those collections and insist on their value, as if it was granted.
I’ve got bad news for them: they are going to lose a lot of money. Because what they call the Art Market is actually the existence of a real arts’ market, much much wider, and their status quo is not going to last. It’s time to invent new ways to exchange and experience works of art allowing the 99% of excluded artists access to the 99% of excluded audiences.
That will be the new avant-garde of the 21st century.

Dhyano Angius

Dhyano Angius is an independent Media Artist and Performer

Volume 32 no 3 Jan/Feb 2018 p 6

17 thoughts on “Speakeasy

  1. What a great read! Finally, someone has brought up the Futurists again, of times gone by. I loved the image conveyed of “works of art are stuck in artist’s studios and warehouses deprived of light and the sense of potential audiences.”

    I really liked the proposal of “allowing the 99% of excluded artists access to the 99% of excluded audiences.” Maybe we all have to move to Dallas and show at the Dallas Cowboys Art Collection in the AT&T Stadium, but the relative risks of massification of art are quite high.

  2. Too often selling art is like selling potatoes, sad but true. It shouldn’t be this way. I like your proposals.

    1. Refreshing proposals, but not very realistic as the big guys controlling the strings aren’t going to want to sit down.

    2. Hi Andy,
      I would like to say something about the art market, seen from the eyes of an art dealer. On one hand it is necessary to see art as potatoes that need selling because the art dealer also has to make a living, while on the other hand the artists are carefully chosen for their talent, the beauty of their work, and their reliability in producing more “potatoes” or artwork. With this criteria in mind the works are chosen and sold to collectors, placed in museum collections and receive requests for exhibitions in galleries around the world. It is not easy work, as galleries have their closed group of artists, sometimes not even by their desire, but a situation which is forced upon them in order to survive – just look at the number of art galleries opening and closing everyday.
      Being an art dealer is a kind of bipolar type of work because first you have to judge the works of art from their sales potentiality or the possibility of their receiving recognition as important works of art, while at the same time the dealer must truly believe in these works and find passion and inspiration from them in order to make them credible and desirable to the collector, gallery or museum.

    3. We have the Tokyo Art Club which became the Tokyo Art Dealers’ Association in Japan, going back to 1892. It’s a very serious association that promotes ethical practice in the art world. It has around 500 members, who are known for their honesty and integrity. These art dealers do not view art as potatoes.

  3. Dhyano,
    You say, “It’s time to invent new ways to exchange and experience works of art allowing the 99% of excluded artists access to the 99% of excluded audiences.” First of all, you must educate people to appreciate art, something that is not happening today. Artists are looked upon in disdain, as weaker members of our society, instead of being respected for their creativity and innovation.
    I live in Japan where it is even more difficult for an artist to emerge than somewhere like in London, Rome or New York, where it’s more normal to be different, as an artist.
    How else would you “invent new ways to exchange and experience works of art”? Do you have any concrete proposals?

  4. In Brazil we live art as a lifestyle at the community level, differently from many other places. With the project, Points of Culture, artists were in the centre of government. Here’s an excerpt of an article from back in 2010 that describes people’s involvement in society through art projects, all thanks to the great Gilberto Gil. Could this be the way to exchange and experience works of art in other countries?

    “In 2003, the Brazilian government created an initiative called Points of Culture: thousands of community and arts projects of all sizes and types that would work to strengthen people’s involvement in the life of their neighbourhoods and the larger society. The idea came from the legendary musician Gilberto Gil who had agreed to become culture minister for a five-year period under President Lula. The very act of having artists in the centre of government sent a signal of serious intent. Throughout his ministry poets, playwrights and philosophers worked in the executive, bringing a new language of aspiration and inventiveness to that of government.”

    1. Hi Leonardo,
      What about the exorbitant taxes Brazilians have to pay on cultural goods, with a sales tax between 50 to 60%? Is this living “art as a lifestyle at the community level”? I think it makes art accessible only to the elite.

  5. Interesting, though perhaps controversial comment from David Boaz of the Cato Institute on the “Separation of Art and State” from 2012:

    “What do art, music, and religion have in common? They all have the power to touch us in the depths of our souls. As one theater director said, “Art has power. It has the power to sustain, to heal, to humanize . . . to change something in you. It’s a frightening power, and also a beautiful power….And it’s essential to a civilized society.”

    Government funding of anything involves government control.

    Which is precisely why art, music, and religion should be kept separate from the state.

    Government involves the organization of coercion. In a free society coercion should be reserved only for such essential functions of government as protecting rights and punishing criminals. People should not be forced to contribute money to artistic endeavors that they may not approve, nor should artists be forced to trim their sails to meet government standards.

    Government funding of anything involves government control. That insight, of course, is part of our folk wisdom: “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

    Defenders of arts funding seem blithely unaware of this danger when they praise the role of the national endowments as an imprimatur or seal of approval on artists and arts groups.

    We don’t need any more fights over “Piss Christ” or the National Portrait Gallery’s “Hide/Seek” exhibition on sexual difference in portraiture or the Enola Gay exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum. And we can thank our lucky stars that Kentucky’s Creation Museum is private, or we’d have a major political battle over that.

    Meanwhile, we should note that the NEA’s budget is about 0.2 percent of the total amount spent on the nonprofit arts in the United States. The rapidly growing crowdfunding platform Kickstarter expects to direct more funding to the arts in its third year of operation than the NEA does.

    The American Founders knew that the solution to the Wars of Religion was the separation of church and state. Because art is just as spiritual, just as meaningful, just as powerful as religion, it is time to grant art the same independence and respect that religion has: the separation of art and state.”


  6. Although Singapore has one of the most thriving art scenes in the world thanks to government funding, the underlying situation is a bit contrasted due to these interests, as the “money comes with strings attached.” According to official data, up to 85% of the arts are funded by the government. The situation in Singapore has its pros and cons, depending on what end of the receiving line you are on. An article that partially describes the arts’ conditioning by the government in Singapore follows:

    1. Hi Hui,
      How do you feel about the arts’ conditioning by the government in Singapore? It would be nice if you could elaborate more on this situation.

  7. Dyano,
    I would like your opinion on this. What do you think of the contributions to art museums made by the Sackler family trying to clean up their name from the money they made on opioids, in particular, OxyContin? The National Portrait Gallery, Courtauld Institute of Art, the University of Edinburgh, the Old Vic Theatre, the University of Glasgow, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Tate have all received substantial contributions from the Sackler family.
    “Ryan Hampton worked at the White House under Bill Clinton and is now in recovery from a decade-long opioid addiction. He campaigns on the issue and said funding from the Sacklers was tainted. “The millions the Sacklers donate to philanthropic and art organisations are blood money, plain and simple. When you stand in the Sackler Gallery, you’re standing on a pile of corpses,” he told the Guardian.
    “I find it hard to believe that any museum board member whose family has battled an opioid addiction would be comfortable at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a wing funded by the Sackler family. It turns my stomach.
    “The only appropriate place for Sackler family money or Purdue corporation funds is in a massive settlement fund controlled by the US courts to treat those still suffering with the addiction caused by their opioids. That money should be used to right the wrongs in a way that is transparent. Donations to arts organisations are reputation laundering, and a distraction from the wreckage of this family’s greed.””

  8. Dhyano, you tallk about the “politicised money spinners at the Art Council and the super sponsored galleries” in the UK. One of our main problems in Japan is the State involvement in the arts. “Japan’s art projects are always public art, meaning that during their process of production they are politically or socially obliged to answer to both their audiences/participants as well as power-holders, that is, the authorities who finance or sanction the work.” ( I believe it’s a global problem, but am unsure about real solutions to this kind of conditioning and manipulation.

  9. Though this article is paid for by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, it is very interesting to see their promotion of street art and also young artists. Something that proves this is the Fo Tan Studios that rents out gallery and studio space in converted warehouses for as little as £1 a square foot.” In a city like Hong Kong where space is extremely limited and costly, it’s quite a step forward to helping artists and also in making art more accessible to the general public.

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