Benjamin Weil on Wed, 4 Mar 1998 22:05:24 +0100 (MET)

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Re: <nettime> Leading Art Site Suspended

Paul Garrin wrote:

--->This is just another example of "disappearance"
>that I wrote about in 1995.
>Guess it takes a cruel dose of reality before
>people get a clue that autonomy is necessity,
>corporate sponsorship is ultimately censorship,
>and subsidies from the government are short lived
>at best.
Next time you get caught off guard and lose your
"free" net resources or your sponsorship....

Don't be surprised!  There is no free lunch.  everything has it's price.


this kind of commentary astounds me in that it demonstrates a remarkably
 simplistic approach to the economy of the arts and culture in general.  it
 reminds me of those people who keep on saying that artists have to starve
 in order to produce good work.  it is at best romantic, at worst idiotic.

art has *always* been supported by wealth, may it be individual patrons,
 corporations, of the state (in  modern times).  there is no doubt that
 there is a price to pay, that there is no "free lunch".  nobody - except
 maybe romantics or idiots - ever assumed that receiving funding from any
 corpus was "free of charge".  old masters, as we refer to them, had to
 service the freed and power of individuals or families, and it did not
 prevent them from being "free".  their freedom was defined by the
 constraints they had to accept in order to make their work.  the notion of
 the artist having "no obligation" to anyone except to her/his art is
 something that only pushes this area of culture in a very marginal
 position. any transaction implies the agreement between both parties that
 there is something in it for each.  the fact digital city, inc. has decided
 to stop supporting adaweb only proves that this corporate entity does not
 see its interest in supporting such venture any longer.  but being able to
 state that "corporate sponsorship is ultimately censorship" basically
 ignores the nature of *any* transaction.  it really does not help foster
 any constructive conversation on the future of funding for culture, which
 is necessary.  it is basically a knee-jerk and ill-thought statement.

public space on the net will only disappear if we decide so.  just like the
 notion of public space in the city disappears if it is not occupied.  it is
 a decision, not an occurence. 

i would find it more constructive and interesting to take this as a
 departure point to discuss the nature of the relationship between art and
 its potential sponsors, so as to eventually come up with means to convince
 the holders of wealth that they have an interest in supporting activities
 that are not "profitable" in a purely capitalistic understanding of the
 term.  so far, most of that support was informed by a valuation of culture
 that relied upon the notion of prestige, or status.  there must be other
 ways, more creative ones, to approach the possibility of establishing
 satisfactory relationships with corporate patrons.  However, this kind of
 thoughts can only be discussed with the postulate that the corporate world
 is no worse that the state, who in turn is no worse that the private
 individual.  again, the nature of such relationship *cannot* be envisioned
 outside of the notion of mutual interest.

on a final note, i also have to say that the whole notion of a disinterested
 state that is so much better than the corporate world, in that it
 supposedly does not have any agenda is again one of the most worn out and
 preposterous statement that can be made at this point.  wake up and smell
 the coffee: its the 90's, not the 60's!

Benjamin Weil
executed curator, ada 'web | | 212 620-7288 ext. 104

new on adaweb:
"blindspot", by darcey steinke, at

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