Brian Holmes on Thu, 3 May 2012 23:40:14 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The insult of the 1 percent: "Art-history majors"

On 05/03/2012 10:07 AM, wrote:

It is this lack of cultural COHERENCE that presents those of us in
the West with our greatest challenge.  This is, in fact, exactly the
province, indeed obligation, of ARTISTS.  Exactly what is our

To a certain extent I agree with you, Mark. I think that capitalism, for better and increasingly for worse, has led to the disintegration of old forms based on a national subjectivity. We must now redefine the uses of culture in the face of an existential threat. The invasion of the art world, but also the university world, by "high net worth individuals" represents a great danger to those who try to elaborate values -- and to shape thinking processes and sensory experiences -- that do not obey the dictates of money or reflect the central neoliberal principle, which holds that competition should structure all social relations and guide all human effort. If we cannot respond to the imposition of neoliberal forms of society, if we cannot create a culture of sustainability and solidarity for the 21st century, then they will guide us into a future of their making. It seems likely that the fruits of their culture will be toxic for the planet and all its inhabitants. The big problem is, they appear to be totally blind to the consequences of the infinite expansion of capital.

When I wrote "The Flexible Personality" a decade ago I was already pointing to the extent to which a formerly resistant experimentalist culture, emerging from the Sixties, had become entangled in market-oriented governmentality. This encouraged a certain neutrality toward financial capitalism, which offered artists and intellectuals many superficial rewards. Now we see what was really intended all along. After weakening the cultural-intellectual institutions through the introduction of profit-and-loss criteria, covered over with the entrepreneurial notion of "excellence," the elites now want to repurpose those institutions entirely. The art institutions should produce what the economists Mei and Moses call "beautiful assets" for speculators in search of prestige and high payoffs (the name of the Mei-Moses art investment company is "Beautiful Asset Advisors," see bio below). In this way, the art institutions are reshaped for the uses of the ultra-rich, and the rest of us are expropriated of the public experience of cultural creation.

As for universities, they should become online training platforms dispensing the kind of ultra-sophisticated technical education on which neoliberal corporations depend. Currently this type of education is starting to be offered for free, but observe all this carefully: it is a crucial site of struggle. Online courses will be declared more efficient and universities as we know them will be phased out, they will become corporate research and training centers. As for philosophy, history, and other disciplines which cultivate subjectivity, they will be offered to elites at very high prices, no longer accessible to ordinary people who can no longer dare to take out $50,000+ loans. Check out the two education links below. Within ten years the experience of education could be totally transformed. There might not be anywhere to read Derrida or Lacan anymore - or more pertinently, Karl Polanyi or Marx.

By neutrality I meant "toeing the line," "obeying the rules," sitting pretty and watching out for your (illusory) career in culture, rather than actively struggling against the total makeover of society by the 1 percent. Maybe it really is time to quit being neutral.

warmly and thoughtfully, Brian

University Futures:

Art Futures:

Professor Moses was a faculty member at The Stern School of Business of New York University for 32 years before his recent retirement. Before that he taught at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania for five years.

During this period he has done research on corporate strategy, supply chain management and the role of art as an asset class. He has published articles in leading academic journals in the fields of economics, finance, management science, operations research and regional science.

He has also authored three books on the diverse fields of Management, Business Process Improvement, and 18th Century American Furniture. During this time he has also been a consultant to several large corporations in the fields of strategic planning and operations analysis. His most recent work has been focusing on art as an asset class.

To round out his art interests he also authored a book on 18th century American antiques entitled Master craftsmen of Newport the goddards and townsends as well as a Antiques Magazine article on the 19th century American painters Marry Blood Mellon and Fitz Hugh Lane a cooperative relationship.

Beautiful Asset Advisors® LLC is set up to help individuals and their insurers and wealth managers to better understand the financial implications of the art market in general and their collection in particular. The firm, via its web site, , make available quarterly and annual art market updates based on their proprietary family of fine art indices. These indices are also used to generate real time “mark to market” art valuations as well as studies on optimal asset allocation including fine art.

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