ART MARKET: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
anyone remember the Simulationist Art that appeared at the end of the
eighties? It consisted mainly of paintings that rejected any kind of originality,
creativity or authenticity in an attempt to undermine the artistic pretentions
of the art market. The tactic was to make paintings of things like dull
looking adverts, uniform monochrome canvases in
an interview in Flash Art at about the same time, Isabelle Graw asks arch
avant-garde theorist Peter Burger what he thinks of this kind of art -
"an art which intentionally presents itself as slick and perfectly
marketable". Burger rejects the hope that this kind of work can be
"artfully subversive" - just because the home of a collector
is full of crap art, that is not enough to constitute a really positive
assault on the art world its capitalist values. Art objects that "conceal
There were also other criticisms of Simulationist artists at the time (like by Patrick Frank), that their Benjamin inspired attempt to avoid aura would fail because aura might be amplified through media attention rather than negated - so however reproducible or banal the artwork became the art world could always hype it up. Interestingly, as this kind of art work became more popular public rows broke out between the artists over who was the "original" Quotational artist - but I digress.
Anyway, by the early nineties the anti-art experiments of the eighties had given rise to Business Art, the prime exponent being the New York artist Mark Kostabi (I can't think of any others at the moment). Kostabi's paintings were entirely tactical - they were badly executed and eventually not even painted by Kostabi himself but by a studio of anonymous hacks (one painting was entitled "I was a Slave in the Mark Kostabi Studio"). There was a documentary made about him at the time called "The Con Artist" which featured footage of him talking to his dealers as he subtly mocked them almost but not quite to the point of their exasperation - "Hey, do your collectors want more architecture in their paintings? This one has got some really nice blue colours in it - do you think you could sell that? I'm sure someone would like that one". In another scene he is having a meeting with a West Coast dealer who is telling Kostabi how he can get him access to the top collectors in California and how his galleries have the best positions on Rodeo Drive, etc. Kostabi listens and then says, well, I think what I really want to do is concentrate even more on the New York scene and really saturate the East Coast market with my work until the prices go right down and all those collectors that have brought my work in the past find that my paintings are now worthless. The tweed jacketed West Coast dealer looks blank for a second and then says how he can get Kostabi access to the top collectors, etc, etc...
Towards the end of the doco Kostabi is having an opening for a new show in a gallery piled full of his awful paintings and he is saying, well, you know the real work of art here is on the outside of the gallery and he points to a huge banner waving outside the gallery which just says "KOSTABI". The last scene is where he is walking through the streets of New York and he is saying how he has now achieved all his goals, his work is selling for ridiculously high prices, the avant-garde art world hates him and now the commercial art world hates him as well but one thing is bothering him - now that he has reached this final stage what he really wants to know is - WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The art.teleportacia.org site clearly contains elements of satire - the "experts" that valuate the works are the usual net.art suspects that wax just a bit too lyrical about the merits of the artists. The mission statement on the web site however says quite clearly that the gallery is not a hoax or a passing fashion and is deadly serious. It's always interesting to see how far you can go with postmodern irony until there is no longer any difference between you and the object of critique. I did not go all the way and purchase one of the net.art classics on offer (and personaly I felt that they were priced far too low) and so I could not discover the nature of the methods of certification and authenticity that were promised (apart from the one about the uniqueness of URLs). Sometimes it's better just to admit that you're desperate to make some money rather than try to turn it into an oppositional art strategy to excuse yourself. Perhap the best thing to do would be to buy up all the net art and burn it all in a ritual art event at a large (real) gallery.
this text I would like to apply for the position of expert critic as advertised
on the teleportacia web site. My only qualifications are an admirable
pliability of mind and a talent for self delusion.