Academy of Fine Arts and Design
MASTER THESIS A
Title of theoretical part:
The Influence of the Hyper-production of the World of Art on the Artist and their Work
Title of practical part:
The Production of Value and the Value of Production
Asiana Jurca Avci Ljubljana, 2021
Akademija za likovno umetnost in oblikovanje
MAGISTRSKO DELO A
Magistrski študijski program druge stopnje
TEORETIČNO MAGISTRSKO DELO:
Vpliv hiperprodukcije sveta umetnosti na umetnika in njegovo delo
PRAKTIČNO MAGISTRSKO DELO:
Produkcija vrednosti in vrednost reprodukcije
Mentorica teoretičnega dela: doc. dr. Petja Grafenauer Mentor praktičnega dela: doc. Peter Rauch
Ime in priimek avtorice: Asiana Jurca Avci, dipl. obl. vizual. kom. (UN) Študentka rednega študija
Vpisna številka: 42170113
Študijski program in smer: Oblikovanje vizualnih komunikacij, Fotografija
Ljubljana, oktober 2021
Academy of Fine Arts and Design
MASTER THESIS A
Second level master’s study program
THEORETICAL PART OF MASTER THESIS:
The Influence of the Hyper-production of the World of Art on the Artist and their Work
PRACTICAL PART OF MASTER THESIS:
The Production of Value and the Value of Re-production
Mentor of Theoretical Part: Doc. dr. Petja Grafenauer Mentor of Practical Part: Doc. Peter Rauch
Name and surname of the author: Asiana Jurca Avci, Bachelor of Arts Full-time student
Registration number: 42170113
Programme and specification: Visual Communication, Photography
Ljubljana, October 2021
The practical part of this master thesis was presented in the Fotopub Project space.
Naslov magistrskega dela:
Vpliv hiperprodukcije sveta umetnosti na umetnika in njegovo delo Produkcija vrednosti in vrednost reprodukcije
Title of the master thesis:
The Influence of the Hyper-production of the World of Art on the Artist and Their Work The Production of Value and The Value of Production
Vizualne komunikacije / Visual communications Fotografija / Photography
Umetnik / The Artist
Umetniški proces / Creative process Hiper-produkcija / Hyper-production Reprodukcija / Reproduction
Odtujenost / Alienation Pristnost / Authenticity
Manipulacija tiska / Print manipulation Cvetlične podobe / Floral imagery Blagovna znamka / Brand
Umetniški trg / Art Market
Družabna omrežja / Social Media Razstava / Exhibition
Magistrska naloga / Master thesis UDK: 77.04+7.01(043.2)
IZVLEČEK V SLOVENSKEM JEZIKU
Cilj magistrskega dela je bil izpostaviti glavne dejavnike današnje hiperproduktivne družbe, ki vplivajo na način, kako umetnik ustvarja oziroma “proizvaja” svoja umetniška dela. Jasno je, da je biti umetnik v post-fordističnem sistemu gospodarske proizvodnje izjemno kompleksna tema, vredna nenehne filozofske obravnave, tu pa se vprašanje razširi tudi na to, kako na umetniški proces vplivajo pretirana individualizacija umetnika, hiperprodukcija subjektivnosti, potreba po ekonomski stabilnosti in razvoj novih
tehnologij. Kako lahko umetnik ostane del sistema, ki izkorišča njegovo delo in njega samega, hkrati ostane zvest lastnim umetniškim prepričanjem in izrazu? Ali je to sploh mogoče, če se umetniki zavedajo lastnega izkoriščanja in namerno odstranijo
pričakovanja ter prevlado kulturnih institucij, katerih del so prisiljeni biti?
Prvo poglavje, ki nosi naslov Hiper-kapitalistične oblike produkcije, govori o tem, kako je eden od glavnih dejavnikov, ki vplivajo na današnji način delovanja umetnikov, hiper- globalizirana neoliberalna ekonomija, v kontekstu katere njihovo delo nastaja. Tako se je avtorstvo umetnikovega produkcijskega predmeta postopoma razširilo na vse
institucionalne akterje in postalo nekakšna soavtorska produkcija, ki jo so-ustvarjajo umetniki, kustosi in institucije. Karl Marx v teoriji odtujenosti trdi, da je družbena 1 odtujenost posameznikov od elementov lastnega obstoja posledica življenja v svetu razslojenih družbenih razredov. Marx odtujenost dela opredeljuje kot “dejstvo, da je delo zunaj delavca, torej ne pripada njegovi biti; da se pri svojem delu torej ne afirmira, ampak zanika samega sebe, se ne počuti zadovoljnega, ampak nesrečnega, ne razvija svobodno svoje fizične in duševne energije, ampak uničuje svoje telo in um.” Po Marxu je izvor 2 odtujenosti prav v izkoriščanju. Delavec izgubi nadzor nad končnim izdelkom, ki ga v resnici določa isti trg, ki ga narekuje in pri tem vsiljuje vse od oblike proizvodnje do njegove vsebine. V hiperproduktivnem kapitalističnem okolju vzpostavitev ločnice med delom in ustvarjalnostjo povzroči izgubo ustvarjalnega značaja pri delu.
Katja Praznik v svoji knjigi Paradoks neplačanega umetniškega dela: avtonomija
umetnosti, avantgarda in kulturna politika na prehodu v postsocializem želi demistificirati izjemen status umetnosti (in umetniškega dela) v prepričanju, da bi širša javnost morala
Peter OSBORNE, Anywhere or Not at All, London, New York 2013, str.107.
Karl MARX, Economic Manuscripts and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Moscow, Mineola 20072 str. 137.
sprejeti perspektivo umetnosti kot dela. Praznik trdi, da je dojemanje umetniške 3
produkcije kot izključno domene umetnikov problematično. Pierre Bourdieu pa poudarja, da takšno mišljenje ustvarja iluzijo, da izključno umetniki na umetnost aplicirajo neko vrednost. V resnici v veliki meri tudi njeno občinstvo sodeluje z umetnikom v procesu njenega poveličevanja in določanja njene umetniške vrednosti. Praznik predlaga, da je treba zahtevati plačo za umetniško delo, ki pa ga je treba priznati kot vrsto dejavnosti, ki jo je sposoben opravljati vsak človek, v nasprotju s pojmom ustvarjalnosti. Ta namreč
“umetnost spreminja v verski kult, področje nekaj nadarjenih, ki jih nadzirajo pravila zahodnih umetnostnih institucij.”4
Naslednje poglavje, Institucionalizem (Akademija in umetniški trg) opisuje, kako je komodifikacija umetniškega izobraževanja v sodobni umetnosti vzpostavila določen estetski jezik. Ta poenotenost ustvarja ovire za napredek in dostopnost v vseh umetniških ustanovah. Umetniške akademije in izobraževalne ustanove so ustvarile niz ideoloških, družbenih in estetskih pravil, ki jih je mogoče izkoristiti kot bližnjice do uspeha in jim njihovi študentje sledijo ter tako ustvarjajo skupno, globalizirano kulturo, ki danes prevladuje v svetu umetnosti. Ker pa umetniške vrednosti ne merimo več z
obvladovanjem določene obrti ali posebne tehnike, je vprašanje, če je formalna umetniška izobrazba sploh nujna za sodobnega umetnika, zlasti v sedanjih razmerah, ko tehnična spretnost ni več nujen pogoj za umetnika. Kaj sploh pomeni biti akademsko izobražen strokovni umetnik? Profesionalizacija ustvarjalnega dela je zdaj bolj kot kadarkoli 5 naložena umetnikom, piscem in kustosom, glavni krivec za to pa je hitro množenje MA programov. Ti programi od študenta pogosto zahtevajo tako akademsko strogost v raziskovalnem vidiku umetniške prakse kot tudi, da upošteva družbeno funkcijo dela, ki ga ustvarja. Pogosto spodbujajo umetnike, ki se razvijajo v akademskih ustanovah, da potencijalno celo (in včasih tudi čisto nezavedno) lažno izdelajo ta vidik svoje prakse, da bi bolje izpolnjevali institucionalna merila.
Jasna ŽMAK, The Paradox of Artistic Labor: An Interview with Katja Praznik, ART MARGINS: ONLINE,
31.07.2017, dostopno na <https://artmargins.com/the-paradox-of-artistic-labor/> (12.2.2021).
Anton VIDOKLE, Art without Market, Art without Education: Political Economy of Art, e-flux, dostopno na
<https://www.e-flux.com/journal/43/60205/art-without-market-art-without-education-political-economy-of- art/> (21.5.2020).
Očitno je, da bi se učitelji v okviru akademskih institucij umetnosti morali posebej zavedati inherentno subjektivnega značaja svojega področja in si prizadevati, da bi bila njihova navodila študentom čim bolj objektivna. Obstaja nevarnost, da je učitelj (ali akademija) pri svojem poučevanju preveč razlagalen ter preveč subjektiven ali poučen, namesto da svoje učence preprosto vodi po poti, ki so si jo z lastnim pred-znanjem že sami ustvarili.
Jaques Ranciere s konceptom Nevednega učitelja pojasnjuje, da je taka že sama logika pedagoškega odnosa: "Vloga, ki je dodeljena učitelju, je odpraviti razdaljo med njegovim znanjem in nepoznavanjem nevednega. Njegove lekcije in vaje, ki jih določa, postopoma zmanjšujejo prepad, ki ju ločuje.”6
Pomemben vidik institucionalizacije umetnosti je tudi preizpraševanje o kritični moči umetniških del, ki raziskujejo pojem umetniške produkcije, nato pa se vrnejo v prav te umetniške ustanove, ki narekujejo oblike produkcije. Kulturna industrija služi predvsem interesom neoliberalne ekonomije, ki hvali prednosti mešanja kultur ali hibridnosti v svetu umetnosti in zato zavzema liberalno stran globalizacije. Ta spodbuja rušenje kulturnih in trgovinskih meja ter posledično vodi do prepletanja kulturnih vplivov. To pa vodi v nastanek pretežno homogenega sveta umetnosti, v katerem se resnično mednarodna perspektiva izgubi v luči skupnega, institucionaliziranega, globalnega stališča umetnosti.
V svojem eseju Ali je muzej tovarna? Hito Steyerl razpravlja o tem, kako so umetniške galerije in prostori (ki so pravzaprav neverjetno pogosto ustvarjeni v nekdanjih tovarnah) gojišča podob, žargona, življenjskega sloga in vrednot- razstavne vrednosti, špekulacijske vrednosti ter kultne vrednosti. "Zabrisana cona hiperprodukcije" je nekakšna tovarna, 7 vendar drugačne vrste, čeprav je še vedno v veliki meri zgrajena na izkoriščanju svojih delavcev.
Iz tega razloga so alternativni prostori umetniške produkcije - tako fizični kot virtualni- vse bolj pomembni za razvoj umetnosti. V naslednjih odstavkih tega poglavja razpravljam o pomenu prostorov, ki jih upravljajo umetniki, pa tudi o razvoju in učinkih tehnološkega razvoja, kot so recimo NFT (Non Fungible Tokens). Ali ti novi načini prodaje umetnosti resnično kaj spremenijo za umetnike ali pa so le še ena priložnost za njihovo izkoriščanje?
Ne glede na veliko količino umetnosti, ki se producira in distribuira, pa tudi na število podobnih umetniških del, ki so nastala pod vplivom trga v času, ki ga opredeljuje globalna
Jaques RANCIERE, The Emancipated Spectator, London 2009, str. 20.
Hito STEYERL, Is a Museum a Factory? e-flux, Junij 2009, dostopno na <https://www.e-flux.com/journal/
homogenost in razvrednotenje pristnosti, je digitalna umetnost spretno kljubovala tej resničnosti in našla nove opredelitve prav vrednosti same kot take.
V zadnjem poglavju prvega dela z naslovom Novi mediji in platforme za samo-
predstavljanje so nanizani učinki različnih tehnoloških napredkov, ki umetnikom ponujajo veliko več, kot samo orodja za bolj »produktivno« tehnološko realizacijo njihovih del.
Na primer, platforme za množično financiranje (Kickstarter, Patreon…) so pri nekaterih umetnikih spremenile način financiranja njihovih del, tako kot je razširjen dostop do poceni, a zelo prefinjenih tehnologij zmanjšal ovire za ustvarjanje visokokakovostnega dela v tehnološko posredovanih disciplinah. Po drugi strani pa je morda bolj dostopno izhodišče do trgovanja z umetniškimi deli potrebno iskati preko kriptovalut, razvoja spletnih umetniških galerij, družabnih medijev in spletnih mest DIY (Do It Yourself/ Naredi si sam) pa tudi umetniških spletnih tržnic ter trgovin za tiskanje na zahtevo (On Demand).
V teh novih medijih pa je velik izziv dejstvo, da je zelo enostavno ustvariti lažno identiteto, ki jo poganjajo všečki in deljenja, ne pa pristni subjekt. Ta subjekt je pogosto v veliki meri performativen in nastane v skladu z odzivi, ki jih preko teh všečkov prejema, zlasti pa glede na preference vsake posamezne platforme. Tukaj sta uporabljena primera dveh umetnic iz popolnoma različnih generacij in krogov, ki prikazujeta kako danes umetniki uporabljajo te platforme na različne načine.
V naslednjem poglavju, Hiperproduktivni umetnik, so predstavljeni učinki teh številnih zunanjih dejavnikov na umetnika in na njegov umetniški proces. Bojana Kunst v svoji knjigi Umetnik pri delu govori o “neprekinjenem preoblikovanju in izvajanju subjektivnosti”, za kar trdi, da je ena ključnih značilnosti sodobne ustvarjalne produkcije. To pomeni, da so “delavci" (posamezniki, ki “proizvajajo" v sodobni družbi) prisiljeni, da se nenehno spreminjajo v skladu s svojim enako neprestano spreminjajočim se globaliziranim okoljem. Njihove lastne subjektivitete imajo namreč osrednjo vlogo v naravi del, ki jih ustvarjajo. Tako na nek način vse, kar sestavlja posameznika - vse njegove projekcije in dejanja, pa tudi vse, čemur so podvrženi - v resnici odraža le družbo samo. Danes so družbeni, čustveni in skupni vidiki sodobnih ljudi vsa področja, ki so jedro proizvodnje in ki bistveno prispevajo k ustvarjanju vrednosti. "Produkcija" teh vidikov pa pripelje tako do radikalne individualizacije kot tudi do določene homogenizacije subjektivnosti. Bolj kot
kadarkoli prej je zdaj v središču kapitalizma subjektivnost, saj je postala največje blago, ki ga proizvajamo in je vključena celo v proizvodnjo vseh drugih dobrin.8
Kako lahko torej umetniki ostanejo avtentični v hiperproduktivni globalizirani družbi? V tem kontekstu postane neizogibno, da umetniška dela nastajajo iz kopičenja umetniških del in izkušenj, ki so jih umetniki prej doživeli ali proizvedli - "večdimenzionalni prostor, v katerem se različne umetnine, od katerih nobena ni izvirna, mešajo in spopadajo in tako ustvarjajo tkivo citatov iz neštetih kulturnih središč." Umetnikova vloga torej postane 9 mešanje in prepletanje umetniških del in idej, ki že obstajajo in ki se združujejo ter si nasprotujejo. V Smrti avtorja Roland Barthes komentira, da se mora umetnik v primeru želje, da se “izrazi”, zavedati dejstva, da je ta “stvar”, ki jo želi izraziti, “sama po sebi že pripravljena - da je že oblikovan nek slovar, da je njihove besede mogoče razložiti le z drugimi besedami in tako naprej, v nedogled.” Vprašanje torej postane- ali mora res biti trg tisti, ki narekuje osnovno artikulacijo tem (in forme) v umetnosti?
Namen praktičnega dela te magistrske naloge je bil razviti projekt, ki ima možnost tako konceptualne kot komercialne izvedbe. Na podlagi podob šopkov, je bil ustvarjen
umetniški “brand” imenovan AJA. Omenjeni šopki so bili puščeni veneti, potem je sledilo eno leto ritualnega fotografiranja, nato pa je nastopil še spontani eksperiment. Fotografije so bile tiskane na navaden pisarniški papir s kapljičnim tiskalnikom in potem na različne načine manipulirane z vodo. Hiperproducirane, manipulirane podobe so bile natisnjene na puloverje in majice ter prodane s pomočjo Instagrama. Konceptualni pristop je bil
predstavljen v obliki razstave v projektnem prostoru Fotopub v Ljubljani. Tam je bila vizualizirana dekonstrukcija procesa, ki je pripeljal do originalnih grafik. Tukaj je bila želja vrednost aplicirati preko bolj analitičnega in intimnega pristopa do materialov. Namen je bil tudi prevesti kreativni proces v že uveljavljen vizualni jezik kulturnih institucij
današnjika: s predmetom, ki predstavlja abstrahirano interpretacijo celotnega procesa - dvoumnim videom v zatemnjeni sobi - nekakšnem svetiščnem prostoru, ki je bil napolnjen z organskimi in intimnimi, skoraj kiparskimi deli in z zaključkom v hladnem galerijskem prostoru, kjer je bilo mogoče izvirne grafike tudi kupiti.
Bojana KUNST, Artist at Work: Proximity of Art and Capitalism, Winchester, Washington 2015, str.20.
Roland BARTHES, Image-Music-Text: the Death of the Author, London 1977, str.146.
Zaključna trditev je, da je najučinkovitejši način ustvarjanja pristne umetnosti imeti zavestno distanco do vseh zunanjih dejavnikov, ki so našteti tekom magistrske naloge.
Standardizacijo in homogenizacijo umetniškega sveta v veliki meri povzroča
profesionalizacija umetnosti, zato je morda za ustvarjanje drugačne umetnosti potrebno poskusiti dostopati do nečesa onkraj tega, tudi, če to "Kar najdemo, ni podobno
umetnosti, kot jo trenutno razumemo,"10 kot pravi Anton Vidokle. "Strokovnost" sodobnih umetnikov potem ni morda nič drugega kot določena strast do tega, kar počnejo, čeprav se s tem nevarno približamo ideji hobija in ne poklica. Upajmo, da bo postalo za umetnike povsem sprejemljivo, skorajda zaželjeno, da delajo na drugih področjih umetnosti ali pa celo na povsem drugem področju dela, namesto da si brez haska prizadevajo, da je umetnost njihov edini vir dohodka. Zdi se, da bi takšna situacija veliko bolj verjetno pripeljala do avtentičnih in pomenljivih umetniških del.
VIDOKLE 2013, op.5.
The goal of this thesis was to decipher the main factors of today’s hyper-productive society, which eﬀect the way in which an artist produces their art works. The theoretical part explores a selection of external factors, which artists must tackle if they wish to be accepted within the current, global world of art. Those factors are the titles of the
chapters of the theoretical part of this thesis and go as follows: Hyper-capitalistic Forms of Production, Institutionalism (Academia and The Art Market), and New Media and
Platforms for Self (Re)presentation. The conclusion which is drawn from the exploration of these factors is that although the art market is seemingly obsessed with the idea of
authenticity and innovation, it is set up to breed exactly the opposite: the hyper- production of ideas and concepts, which confine artists to a standardised, as well as greatly homogenised and limited means of expression. In the final chapter titled Authenticity?, the subject of artistic innovation in the 21st century is explored more thoroughly. Within the practical part, titled The Production of Value and The Value of Production a series of prints named Wetprints is executed both via their commercial potential, as well as through a more conceptual interpretation. The series is created through the act of dripping, dipping, and exposing Inkjet prints to sea and rain, which creates a sort of water-colour eﬀect, each image unique, and original, yet inescapably cliche because of its subjects- wilted bouquets. The last chapter discusses both
commercial and conceptual processes in detail leading up to the final presentation of the project, So This Is It?, an exhibition which took place in October 2020 in the Fotopub Project Space.
Table of Contents
1. Un-productive Ideas 12
2. The Hyper-production of Art 16
2.1 Hyper-capitalistic Forms of Production 18
2.4 Institutionalism (Academia and The Art Market) 24 2.3 New Media and Platforms for Self (Re)Presentation 36
3. The Hyper-productive Artist 43
3.1 Authenticity? 45
4. The Production of Value and the Value of Reproduction 51 4.1. An Attempt at More Intentional Artistic Production? 51
4.2. Wet Prints 53
4.3 Production Strategies 57
4.4 Reflections 75
5. The Production of Experience 78
6. List of Literature 81
7. Reproductions of the Authors Artworks 86
8. List of Figures 92
1. Un-productive Ideas
It all begins with an idea. Something clicks, the lightbulb is lit and suddenly you see it: the result, the product - an image hanging on the wall, an object in a space, a choreography played out on stage. You see it in its final form, its ultimate physical manifestation:
framed, shined, perfectly timed. And then it happens – it manifests, you manifest it. But what happens on the way … and afterwards?
While I am writing this introduction, my smartphone lights up as I receive a message.
Someone has just forwarded me an article with the title “The Problem of hyper production within the cultural field”, written by Eva Kraš, a member of The Association for Theatre Artists of Slovenia (ZDUS). I reply: “What – so now we’re going to start hyper-producing articles and master theses on hyper-production?”. My answer gets a laughing emoji
“react”, but, to be completely honest, in that moment I am a little annoyed. When I open the file I quickly realise that the article is very specifically about hyper-production and its physical eﬀect on the performing artist (dancer, actor). Being aware of the circumstances under which I am writing this is one thing, but writing a whole master thesis on a subject that was just covered by someone else would be a little unnecessary, even ironic,
considering the topic itself.
But going back to my initial thought; recently I encountered a point in my photography studies when all I was capable of “producing” were ideas. Even though my excessive archive of aimless personal snapshots continued getting bigger, what I was creating with the intent to exhibit was next to nothing. What was accumulating within me and what had been building itself up for quite a while was a sort of artistic existential crisis and a certain feeling of rebellion towards the ever-growing hyper-production of art. I had started to view my creative work diﬀerently: being conditioned to think about said "work" as the creation of a product, which must be packaged and conceptualised into some sort of a whole and then sold via material (production) or immaterial (market) value, had caused the creativity itself to get lost somewhere in between. I had also ceased to see the point in creating as well as accumulating artistic products, which might be similar to the artworks that I would eventually and undoubtedly “meet” online. What is more, it seemed that if my works did not have some sort of underlying theoretical foundation, were not particularly
technologically innovative or did not contain some sort of an ingrained message about a current social or political issue, they would never be deemed relevant for exhibiting.
Nevertheless, ideas begin to accumulate, old and new, semi-developed projects as much as random notes from my smartphone which only I can decipher. The problem is that a majority of them would require too much time, organisation, or money, and by the time I get to their realisation I start to doubt their relevance and execution – to the point where they ultimately seem completely senseless.
In a talk by Bojana Cvejić titled On Aesthetic Individualism the choreographer and art theorist speaks of “the fear of de-subjectivisation” in relation to the use of art as a tool for the performance of the self in current capitalist society. This fear, I believe, is something that we have been acutely experiencing during our first few years as free-lancing artists, and is an issue, which should definitely be addressed more often in relation to some of the paradoxes of contemporary artistic production. One strives to be an individual, to stand out amongst the mass of artists and the products that they make, but how I understand this over-active wish to stand out, is as a fear of the complete dissolution of the self. I found this part of Cvejić’s talk particularly interesting, as one of my main interests throughout this thesis is the way that the over-individualisation and
subjectivisation of art and artists causes any element of expression to disappear, as mass globalisation has ensured that the means of production and tools that those artists use as means of expression, are nevertheless still dictated by the broader system of cultural production. Not even new venues of self-performance , such as social media, or the new 11 business of “Artification” really have any benefit; if anything they have caused an even 12 greater homogeny within the aesthetics as well as within the concepts of contemporary art, and aﬃrmed the prophecies from the 1960s and 70s that “everyone is an artist” (as claimed by Joseph Bueys) and that “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” (as apparently worded by Andy Warhol).
Adding to this internal and excessively personal crisis the simple necessity of economic existence in today’s society and one can see that the role of the artist in today’s society is truly a paradoxical one. In her book The Paradox of Unpaid Artistic Labour, Katja Praznik dissects some of the contradictions at the very heart of artistic labour and builds a strong argument against the paradoxical “autonomy” of labour in the field of the arts. Even when
Bojana CVEJIĆ, Aesthetic individualism, or dancing solo in the 21st century, Vimeo, 2019, available at
Roberta SHAPIRO, Natalie HEINICH, What is Artification?, Contemporary Aesthetics, available at
the institution of art has secured relative autonomy for artists in determining the
parameters of their work as a specialised profession, it has created an exploitative system characterised by irregular employment, wage inequality, as well as unreliable job
security. The implementations of competitive relations in the cultural labour market 13 redefine art workers as cultural entrepreneurs and cause a rise of art produced for the sake of production, instead of art produced for the sake of artistic expression. As Karl Marx wrote in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, so accurately
describing the relationship of the capitalistic worker to the object of his production: “The relation of the worker to the product of labour as an alien object exercising power over him.”14
Seeing as the topic of this thesis is extremely extensive, my goal is to decipher the main factors of today’s hyper-productive society, which aﬀects the way an artist creates, or shall I say “produces” their art works. Many others have done this before; it is no secret that being an artist in the post-fordist system of economic production is an extremely complex and philosophical topic. But as I am neither an economist nor a philosopher, and I hardly even call myself an artist, I want to use these positions, as well as my own
personal experiences, only as leverage to develop a thesis on how the artistic process is eﬀected by the over-individualisation of the artist and the hyper-production of
subjectivities, the need for economic stability, and the development of new technologies.
Using various forms of literature, but also the experiences of diﬀerent artists, close acquaintances, colleagues, and friends, I believe I can speculate on how the artist can stay true to their own artistic beliefs and expression, once they become more acutely aware of the exploitation taking place and deliberately take down the expectations and dominance of the cultural institutions, that they are forced to be part of to have something even close to economic security.
Within the practical part of this thesis I decided to very intentionally try and finally sell some of my work, something which I did not have much experience with otherwise. A spontaneous experiment transformed into something very concrete – prints, which I saw endless potential in and hyper-produced excessively throughout the summer of my
Katja PRAZNIK, The Paradox of Unpaid Artistic Labor: the Autonomy of Art, the Avant- Garde, and
Cultural Policy in the Transition to Post-Socialism, Ljubljana 2016, pg.2.
Karl MARX, Economic Manuscripts and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Moscow, Mineola 20072,
discovery of the almost childishly simple technique. The result was a project that could be both conceptually and commercially executed – so I decided to do both. Stemming from a series of photographs of wilted bouquets, I created an artist brand and applied the prints to sweaters and t-shirts, using Instagram as my main shop base. The conceptual approach was presented in the form of an exhibition in the Fotopub Project Space in Ljubljana, which deconstructed the very process that had led me to the prints in the first place. For this part I attempted to apply value to the prints through a more analytical and intimate approach to the materials. My intention was to translate my process into the established visual language of cultural institutions today: an object, which represents an abstracted interpretation of the whole process, an ambiguous video in a darkened room, a mural type space, filled with organic and intimate pieces, and finally, a cold, stark gallery space, the museum shop at the end of the story, where one can buy souvenirs – in this case, the original prints. By the end of the whole thing, I could not even look at the original prints anymore – all they reminded me of was my quest for profit and meaning, which of course did not play out exactly as I had imagined when the idea first bloomed in my mind.
2. The Hyper-production of Art
Within a hyper-capitalistic society, artists and the way in which artists create their 15 artworks, have been strongly influenced by extensive globalisation, as well as the
predicated criteria and structures of artistic presentation and production such as the rise of artistic academia and the creative industries. One of the main consequences of this intensive globalisation and the creation of a global market for art has been intensive mediatization, a theory which argues that the media shape and frame the processes and discourse of political communication as well as the society in which that communication takes place. What this means is that global mass media, more than anything pre-define 16 the themes, frameworks and means of expression that artists have available to them. This common, globalised art world is held together by several common discourses, both artistic and critical. The conceptual frameworks and hermeneutical strategies shared by artists, gallerists, and critics, facilitate a transnational understanding of art and the 17 global art market’s growing need for novelty and innovation has created an attention regime , which seeks out new artists and works at an even greater speed than before. 18
“Artistic movements evaporate in trends and ‘hyped-up’ exhibition concepts in rapid succession. Art production and presentation too have become, in other words,
But while curators are now searching for new artist and works world-wide in order to create a more culturally diverse art scene (and market) than ever, these expansions have led to the homogenisation of art, and most importantly, an accumulation of artistic
products. The speed at which artistic products are created and consumed today tends to eliminate a great deal of the intimate nature of artistic production, as well as the public
Hypercapitalism is a type of capitalist social organisation, which is heavily impacted by globalisation and
the development of new technologies. It is characterised by the speed and intensity of global flows, which encompass the interchange of both tangible and immaterial products, people, and information.
Pascal GIELEN, Artistic Freedom and Globalization, open! Platform for Art Culture & the Public Domain,
26.3.2007, available at <https://onlineopen.org/artistic-freedom-and-globalization> (12.4.2020).
Noel CARROL, Art and Globalisation: Then and Now, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1/65,
Rudi LAERMANS, The Attention Regime: On Mass Media and the Information Society, in: Medias Res:
Peter Sloterdijk’s Spherological Poetics of Being (ed. Willem Schinkel, Liesbeth Noordegraf-Elens, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2011, pg. 118.
GIELEN 2007, fn.8.
spaces in which they are presented and in which artistic ideas themselves might bloom.
With hyper-globalisation, competition and innovation, pressure increases and cultural globalisation – as well as the accumulation of artistic products and artists – now continually produces an “objective culture” , as was labelled by sociologist Georg 20 Simmel. Even though it may still be human hands which produce artistic products (be it via traditional techniques or through new media technologies), at some point they
“escape, and the distance becomes too great”- they become alienated from our own
On the other hand, it has become common that the number of graduated visual and performing artists greatly exceeds the number of visual and performing artists who make a living purely from the creative profession they have specialised in. Most of these
creative individuals have become accustomed to the fact that if they wish to live a somewhat financially stable existence, they must usually settle for a day-to-day job, which is not necessarily in their field of profession. Their artistic practice is left to the side, as a sort of luxury, a hobby from which varied incomes are occasionally made when and if the opportunity presents itself. Those who persist in their area and succeed in refining their artistic expertise to a degree which gives them an advantage within their field
sometimes succeed in establishing themselves as acknowledged professionals, but even then, it is never promised that their careers will not play out as an endless freelancing job hunt. Even MA degrees cannot guarantee a job within the field of the arts; sometimes – rarely – a teaching position. But for the most part, the commodification of art has forced artists to create a division between their own creative work and “work for money” while, on the other hand, also adjusting their work accordingly, depending on the constantly changing and evolving global labour market. Recently, there has been a notable rise of contracted workers and the “gig economy” or “project” - based work, which lacks an 21 22 ongoing contractual relationship with a single employer, which is nothing new for artists, musicians, actors, and others in the cultural sector, yet in recent years many other
professions have began working in this manner, be it by choice or out of necessity. Most artists rely on incomes from multiple part-time jobs, underpaid full-time work and/or
Georg SIMMEL, On Individuality and Social Forms, Chicago, London 1971, pg.68.
Angie KIM, What Do Artists Need to Thrive?, in: Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Aﬀecting
U.S. Artists, Los Angeles 2016, pg. 38.
Bojana KUNST, Artist at Work: Proximity of Art and Capitalism, Winchester and Washington 2015, pg.14.
sporadic contract employment, while full-time salaried positions, as well as regular working hours, family leave, health insurance and retirement saving plans are something that they can only dream of. Within our current hyper-productive society “Artists have become their own (autonomous) entrepreneur and heteronomous (employee) at the same time.”23
And while a significant portion of today's art is created in areas where there is no real art market, or in countries where the capitalist market structure is not the prevalent mode of cultural and social organisation, in order to survive and create art in the first place, most artists depend on a certain economy. Artists may attempt to physically, for lack of a 24 better word, alienate themselves from the conditions of contemporary production in an attempt at authentic self-expression, but, even if the conditions of production are not pre- dictated by artistic institutions, the second their artworks are at the mercy of the art market and artistic institutions, they risk alienation. Therefore if an artist wishes to remain a regular part of modern society, they must, to some level, conform to the market’s wishes, even if they do so after they have created their artistic product. But by doing this they risk their artworks losing genuine artistic value for exposure and financial gain. The value of the work of art is therefore dictated by the context in which it is presented, or rather into which it is accepted, and by a collective belief which is constantly produced and reproduced.25
2.1 Hyper-capitalistic Forms of Production
Whether it is the representation of a process or the actual creation of a product, production is obviously at the heart of making art and this notion has long been
acknowledged by artists and art theorists, both as an action taken by the artist and as an idea to be analysed in it itself. But the authorship of the artist’s object of production has spread across all institutional players concerned, as a co-authorial production assembled
KUNST 2015, fn. 14, pg. 10.
Anton VIDOKLE, Art without Market, Art without Education: Political Economy of Art, e-flux, March 2013,
available at <https://www.e-flux.com/journal/43/60205/art-without-market-art-without-education-political- economy-of-art/> (21.5.2020).
PRAZNIK 2016, fn. 13, pg.48.
by artists, curators, and the institutions which they are a part of. According to Paolo 26 Virno, this mode of producing closely related to the post-Fordist economy, creates a division of work within which there is no categorical partitioning made between
aesthetics, labour, and politics. At this point everybody is participating in the networked and assembled mode of production, so that even the divisions between positions become relative. He also asserts to the fact that capitalism grants autonomy within the workplace to the extent that the worker must remain productive according to the criteria set by capitalism. 27
Now, just as the hyper-capitalistic form of production has lead to a blurring of the division between aesthetics, labour, and politics, the social position of artists has also changed, as capitalism has grown. Artistic development itself has been influenced by the
commodification of art and, far from being free from it, artists have grappled with alienation from their work, since at least the middle of the 19th century. Karl Marx’s 28 theory of alienation elaborates that the social alienation of individuals from elements of their own existence is a result of living in a world of stratified social classes. In his Economic Manuscripts, Marx defines the alienation of labour as labour which “the fact that labour is external to the worker, i.e., it does not belong to his essential being; that in his work, therefore, he does not aﬃrm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind.” He also adds that the work is imposed, forced labour, which 29 is not the satisfaction of a need, but merely a means with which to satisfy other needs.
The worker’s alienation to their work is most clearly shown by the fact that as soon as there is no external necessity for it, no physical or other compulsion, it is “avoided like the plague.” "Finally, the external character of work for the worker is shown by the fact that 30 it is not his own work but work for someone else, that in work he does not belong to
Peter OSBORNE, Anywhere or Not at All, London, New York 2013.
Paolo VIRNO, A Grammar of the Multitude, For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life, New York
Chris NINEHAM, Art and Alienation: A Reply to John Molyneux, Socialist Review and
International Socialism: Journal Index, March 1999, available at <http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/
MARX 2007, fn. 14, pg.137.
himself but to another person.” According to this definition, the root of alienation lies in 31 exploitation. The fact that the capitalist owns the means of production in society and runs production for profit causes labour to become a means to create maximum profit by maximising output. The worker loses control over the finished product, which is really just determined by the same market which dictates it, imposing everything from the form of production to its content. It may seem excessive to compare the problem of the
relationship of a young artist to their creative work to that of, for example, a minimum wage-paid factory worker, but the problems which the two meet during the process of production are all too similar, as the cause of alienation is the relationship which the worker has to their work process, as well as to the finished product. In most cases both are predicated by their basic needs for survival, which are, in return, predefined by the economic system they are a part of. The content, on the other hand, is preconceived by the needs of the global, hyper-capitalist market that employs them.
One can conclude then, that in a hyper productive capitalistic environment, artists who wish to make a living with their work inevitably begin to create works, which abide with the wishes and expectations of their potential audience or customers, as well as their employers, which means that a certain level of alienation is unavoidable. The
establishment of a division between work and creativity creates a loss of the creative character in the work as well as the original interconnectedness between work and creativity. Artistic production becomes a specialised field under which creativity is separate from work as well as vice versa. But art is work and since the field of artistic production is inherently connected to the capitalist mode of production, it is part of its economy and structured by wage labour. Marx argues that capitalism is inherently hostile to art insofar as the capitalistic form of production extends into the realm of art and within it denies the artistic or creative principle, while also negating it within the field of labour.32
For artist “workers”, one of the main problems is the centring of the notion of artistic talent to a mere selection of individuals. This confirms the generally unproductive notion of the division of labour, which should ideally remain by nature universal – within the more common sphere of creativity. It is exactly this aﬃrmation which divides people into
creators and consumers and prevents the development of individuals as inherently
PRAZNIK 2016, fn, 13, pg.46.
creative beings. But under the condition of a neoliberal, hyper-capitalistic economy the 33 autonomy of art as an area of exceptional individuals (artists) with a creative gift leads to a limitation of human creativity. In her book The Paradox of Unpaid Artistic Labor: the
Autonomy of Art, the Avant-Garde, and Cultural Policy in the Transition to Post-Socialism Katja Praznik aims to demystify the exceptional status of art (and artistic work) in belief that the broader public should take on the perspective of art as labor. Praznik asserts to 34 the fact that it seems that artists and cultural producers avoid speaking of the economic dimensions of their own practice so as not to endanger the artistic value as well as the autonomy of art. In The Rules of Art Bourdieu writes “The power of dedication or validity of artistic value functions as faith or belief. This belief in artistic value allows certain, or rather “dedicated” creators, to “create products as sacred objects by the miracle of their signature (or brand).” But the consideration of artistic production as purely the domain 35 of artists is problematic for many reasons. Bourdieu emphasises that this creates the illusion that it is solely artists who apply value to art, when it is largely also its audiences who collaborate with the artist in the process of its glorification as well as the
determination of its artistic value.
Within the field of the arts it is fairly common that a lot of work is done for little to no monetary reciprocation. The reasons for unpaid artist work are mainly shaped by the cultural politics of the modern national state and the capitalist form of production, as well as the paradigm of neoliberal rationalism, which controls both the ruling as well as the ruled by generalising the principle of competition as a behavioural norm. We live in a 36 time when cultural entrepreneurs of all kinds are, with the vast majority of the world's self- employed population, embracing the global entrepreneurial spirit of contemporary
production or trying to practice (cultural or creative) entrepreneurship. But art as an 37 autonomous field has been traditionally established on the basis of the artistic value connected to the art object as opposed to artistic labour (process), which creates a
Adolfo Sanchez VASQUEZ, Art and Society, London 1977, pg. 283.
Jasna ŽMAK, The Paradox of Artistic Labor: An Interview with Katja Praznik, ART MARGINS: ONLINE,
Contemporary art across the evolving global peripheries, 31.07.2017, available at <https://artmargins.com/
Pierre BOURDIEU, The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field, Stanford 1996, pg.142.
Pierre DARDOT, Christian LAVAL, The New Way of The World: On Neoliberal Society, New York 2013, pg.
PRAZNIK 2016, fn.13, pg.3.
problem for the labour’s value and its monetary compensation within the context of art production.
According to Bourdieu, art is marked by an inherently paradoxical economy as the labour of artists is mostly ascribed to artistic talent, genius, or creativity. True, the labour of artists is mostly invisible, but the expression “to take work home with you” probably applies for artists more than for any other kinds of workers, and on diﬀerent, much more intimate level. An artist is constantly working – thinking, composing, realising, even when they are not literally at work or creating products to be presented to the public, they are planning and coming up with ideas for future projects. The term “project” has been used at least from the 1960s onwards as a description for the increasingly heterogenous artistic practices, which may or may not be in collaboration with others. As a basic production model, the project shows us that the borders between professional and personal investment have disappeared- today, work includes all areas of our lives. Bojana Kunst describes the term “project” as “a processual, contingent, and open practice, which cannot be planned or controlled and also entails the possibility of ending in a disaster, without a result or in something completely diﬀerent and unexpected.” Kunst claims that
“The project not only entails work, but also self-realisation, on the level of one’s life and sometimes deeply personal. The nature of this self-realisation is contradictory, however.
We work so much that we never again have time for ourselves and others; due to the amount of work and the intensity of our self-realisation, we can actually burn out at life.”
She also believes that if art as work wishes to survive, artists must rebel against the project and demand the temporality of work as duration.38
The prestige and perceived exceptionality of artistic work tend to surround the injustice of the precarious, often unpaid labour that sustains art as an institution. In an interview with ARTMargins Online, Katja Praznik says that “the field of art mystifies the economic aspect of its production because it is encompassed by a separation/distinction between artistic talent and artistic labour.” As a result, the essence of unpaid creative labour lies in the assumed artistic ability or talent, which obscures the labour itself, as artists and cultural workers often forego all reward for their labor as though they did not belong to the wage market, i.e. the society in which the rest of the workforce makes a living by working and being paid/compensated for it. For art to be considered as labour, it must be valued in
Temporality is a term used in philosophy to express the way time is understood. Traditionally it is seen as
a straightforward procession of past, present, and future.
economic terms and not as some divine intervention oﬀered free oﬀ charge for the benefit of society. One insightful comparison which Praznik makes is that of Marxist feminists who in the 1970s established a convincing critique of domestic labour that revealed how its social and economic devaluation was derived from its essentializing link to the female character or physique. Through its transformation into an internal desire, a natural 39 calling of women, unpaid housework became intangible as a source of labour.
In this sense, artistic labour, which is still regarded as non-work because it is seen as an expression of a naturally gifted creative personality, is analogous to the perception of domestic labour as a natural attribute of women. In both cases specific sets of skills are socially constructed as naturally stemming from the subject’s essence or nature.
Nevertheless, the diﬀerence between the two lies in the fact that domestic work is
considered a selfless act of labour for the greater good of humanity, while artistic work is defined as “self-aﬃrming individualistic exceptionality” . Since artistic labour is an 40
expression of that individualistic exceptionality, the reward for artists lies in the promise of self-realisation and self-expression. But just as with gender characterisation, this
contributes to the exploitation of artistic creativity. The demystification of creativity and artistic genius is crucial in the critique of unpaid artistic work. However, defining creative work as labour rejects the role that capitalism intended for the artist- an embodiment of individualistic self-suﬃciency and the expression of creative genius, powered by the spirit of creativity and desire for self-actualisation. Nevertheless, until the system itself is
changed and the concepts of value and labour are redefined, the commodification of all kinds of human activity is certainly not the anti-capitalist solution. What Praznik suggests until then is that wages must be demanded for art work, which should be demystified and recognised as a type of activity which any human being is capable of, as opposed to an essentialized notion of creativity, which “transforms art into a religious cult, the domain of an exclusively talented few, which is controlled by the rules of the Western institution of art.”41
Katja PRAZNIK, Wages for and against Art Work: On Economy, Autonomy, and the Future of Artistic
Labour, Reshape, 8.12.2020, available at <https://reshape.network/article/wages-for-and-against-art-work- on-economy-autonomy-and-the-future-of-artistic-labour> (14.2.2021).
PRAZNIK 2020, fn.30.
2.4 Institutionalism (Academia and The Art Market)
The development of today’s technologies has encouraged the idea that with the right tools and knowledge everyone can “become an artist” and be seriously considered within the art world and its institutions, with or without an oﬃcial degree. Often this change is discussed as the de-skilling of art, something which, within the context of (hyper) capitalism, could be defined as “what happens when the expressive unity of hand and eye is overridden by the conditions of social and technological reproducibility.” In 42 comparison, not just anybody who types a few symptoms into Google and sets a diagnosis is considered a doctor, nor is everyone who can use autotune to manipulate their voice considered a professionally trained singer. But creativity in the artistic sense cannot be learned; technically everyone is born with the ability to be creative. Creative expression comes from the accumulated experiences and life context, which the artist is born into, yet nowadays, because of the hyper-commodification of art, as well as the development of a common, globalised culture, artistic education (and therefore also artistic production) has become thoroughly goal and information oriented, rather than being treated more as a process which might arouse a person's aesthetic sensibilities.
And although “the idea that “I could do that” is still largely what fuels contemporary art, the art world remains dominated by graduates from select academies. Today “Art schools are certainly brand names in the market for young artists.”43
As another result of globalisation, the commodification of artistic education has
established a certain aesthetic language for contemporary art which has created barriers to both progression and accessibility within artistic institutions of all kinds. Artistic
academies and educational institutions have produced a set of ideological, social, and aesthetic points, which it is possible to exploit as shortcuts to success and which their students may follow to produce the common, globalised culture, which prevails in the art world today. But since artistic worth is no longer measured through the mastering of a certain craft or specific technique, is a formal artistic education truly necessary for the artist of today? Under the current conditions of the de-skilling of art, what does it even
John ROBERTS, The Intangibilities of Form: Skill and Deskilling in Art After the Readymade, New York
Stewart MARTIN, An Aesthetic Education Against Aesthetic Education, in: Curating and the Educational
Turn (eds. Paul O’Neill & Mick Wilson), Amsterdam, 2010, pg. 111.
mean to be an academically trained professional? Especially when so few artists can 44 rely solely on their artistic practice for their income, why is there still so much emphasis on being full-time art-school-trained, professional painters, photographers, sculptors, writers or curators? It seems that today art schools have become more like training systems, which educate future producers of art, it’s administrators, even its consumers.
Art has become professionalized in an extremely narrow and rigid manner. And what professionalisation is about is the division of labour, which takes us back to Marx’s theory on the alienation of the (artist) worker to their work. What is paradoxical is that being an artist is still considered one of the less alienated forms of production. Many strive to become cultural producers exactly because they believe that in a sense they will have more freedom in the field, although the professionalisation of creative work is, now more than ever, imposed on artists, writers, and curators, who are largely living in precarity. The main culprit of this professionalisation is the rapid increase in Masters of Fine Arts
programs, which are considered essential for anybody who would like to enter into the art world, yet act mainly as “a perfect economic feedback loop that perpetuates their own existence as most artists depend on having a teaching position, which is unattainable without a MFA.”45
In an essay titled It Looks Like Art: Institutions, Academia, and Publicly Funded Art under Late Capitalism, Allan Gardner mentions a studio visit he recently had with an artist. He describes how the artist was creating mixed-media sculptures with photographs and objects, arranging and re-arranging things when at some point, they both stepped back to observe his work and agreed that whatever it was that he had created, “it looks like art”. Something “looking like” art is centred in semiotics and can have potentially
dangerous consequences for the art world. By using certain types of aesthetic and visual language, as well as iconography, while also addressing current world issues or
representing progressive politics, artists can be sure that their audiences will understand and relate to their work, while institutions will be eager to show it. Essentially, this is again the consequence of globalisation and a transnational understanding of art and everything that it could possibly be. Write and curator Chris Sharp defines two kinds of art- Major
VIDOKLE 2013, fn.16.
and Minor and labels most of the art which we see, for example, at biennials, as Major. 46 This is art which, “instrumentalizes, reduces, recuperates, streamlines, flattens out,
absorbs, and eliminates diﬀerence” - it looks for the lowest common denominator either 47 in spectacle, topicality or use value and asks what art can do as opposed to what it is or can be. “Art is never an end to itself, but a means, a vehicle.” 48
It is of course positive that the further development of art education has pushed artists to expand their practices to broader realms than simply perfecting the technical aspects of their practice, but also to use their creative skills, as well as new available technologies, to actively express various issues within our society. But socially aware art’s roots lie in rebellion and discontent, not within the academies and systems, which are often being rebelled against. Nevertheless, it seems that art schools and academies have begun to encourage their students to engage in socially aware art practices to a degree where it seems that if an art piece has no social application, it has little value within a wider artistic context. Courses often put an emphasis on both academic rigour in the research aspect of art practice as well as that the student consider the social function of the work they produce, encouraging artists developing within academic institutions to potentially even fabricate this aspect of their practice in order to better meet institutional criteria. It goes without saying that this greatly eﬀects the homogenisation of contemporary art. But when academies encourage artists to produce socially engaged work with limited facilities and capital, as well as to position themselves in a specific academic or social context in hope of recovering some of that loss, students end up paying for their elaborate projects out of their pockets and with no guarantee of recuperation. In his article Gardner gives the 49 example of London’s Royal College of Art, where inflated fees exceed the Student Loans Company funding, especially for international students. There are also apparent
consistent complaints of overcrowding/lack of space combined with constant strikes against unfair contracts, working conditions, and pay gaps for staﬀ. Now, it is undeniably positive for an institution to encourage its students to become more socially engaged, but
Chris SHARP, Theory of the Minor, Mousse Magazine, February- March 2017, available at <http://
SHARP 2017, fn. 37.
Allan GARDNER, It Looks Like Art: Institutions, Academia, and Publicly Funded Art under Late
Capitalism, Mousse Magazine, available at <http://moussemagazine.it/looks-like-art-institutions-academia- publicly-funded-art-late-capitalism-allan-gardner-2020/> (21.2.2020).
when ethical issues are ingrained at an institutional level, it begins to undermine that aim.
Students are prepared for an artistic “career” of constantly advocating their work, falsely adopting progressive ideologies, and not really having honest accountability for their conceptual execution.
This problem speaks of the actual hyper-production of not only art, but artists
themselves, which is one of the main consequences of art being commodified. Students are taught to create academic projects, which “look like” art, but may not stem from the personal initiative of those artists to express themselves using aesthetic means. Those students have simply successfully picked up on the established aesthetic language for contemporary art, and although some do show an ability to embrace those aesthetics, yet interpret them through their own subjective point of view, more often they end up creating works which fit the criteria of a contemporary art piece, but lack the aspect of revaluation, which is what might make a truly innovative artwork. Subsequently, one may experience a certain sense of deja-vu when walking through art fairs or biennales; a feeling that a lot of the works on display we have already seen before. This is an inevitable eﬀect of the circulation of art as a globally traded commodity, which is produced and displayed by an industry of specially trained professionals. Therefore, to aspire to the production of more authentic art, one must step outside of standardisation and professionalisation and discover what may be on the other side, even if it does not at all resemble art as we currently know it.50
In an interview by Miha Colner with artist and professor Duba Sambolec, who has taught at art academies from Slovenia, to Norway, to China and Great Britian, Colner poses the question of the role of education in the field of visual culture. It seems, he says, that while art academies have begun to emphasise technique, concentrating on the development of craft in a certain field, on the other hand, they have become increasingly more prone to encouraging experimentation. Sambolec replies by saying that art academies should be a kind of “encyclopaedic space”, which is equipped from the basement to the attic with materials of all kinds, which enable the development of both technical and intellectual skills. She then goes on to say that it is easy for one to learn technical skills or how to use new technologies, especially when the root comes from their own ideas, in which case they are also most likely to be motivated to learn. She ends her thought with an important
VIDOKLE 2013, fn.16.
statement – “Above all, academies should not subject themselves to the increasing pressure on the humanities sector, as well as pragmatic and utilitarian radical thinking or ideologies, which impoverish the possibility of choice and thus lead to a growing one- mindedness”. Creativity is an important category in all areas of social activity, because 51 there are always alternatives, but the ability to find them is ever more necessary.
This is an important point, which leads to Colner's follow up question about his experience of how around ninety percent of the artworks that he sees at student
exhibitions, seem to follow certain outlined formulas such as following patterns from art history and current trends or the influence of their professors. In a way the teaching of creative skills is inherently more subjective than say pedagogy of science or economics, so students are inescapably more subordinated to the subjective views and tastes of their professors. But this could easily be avoided or at least minimised by changing the
systems of employment for pedagogical staﬀ. According to Sambolec, when an academy permanently employs their staﬀ, any kind of experimentation goes out the door. Where this is not possible, visiting tutors and lecturers are crucial to increase the diversity of information, which is available to students. It seems also that a fundamental element of artistic education for both student and tutor is to be aware of how easy it is to exploit the knowledge of certain conceptual, ideological, social, and aesthetic concepts, as well as to purposefully avoid being overly influenced by them, while still taking them into
consideration, finding which aspects of them may be engaging for the student, then searching for an idiosyncratic approach.
Jaques Ranciere defines the role of the teacher and individual in the cause of individual liberation in his book The Emancipated Spectator. When introducing the concept of “The Ignorant Schoolmaster" he writes that the very logic of a pedagogical relationship is that
“The role assigned to the schoolmaster in that relationship is to abolish the distance between his knowledge and the ignorance of the ignoramus. His lessons and the
exercises he sets aim to gradually reduce the gulf separating them.” My understanding 52 of what Ranciere means here, is that it is the role of the tutor to consider the diﬀerence in knowledge between him and his student(s) when leading them to approach a certain topic, as each student already has some individual predisposed knowledge, which need
Miha COLNER, INTERVJU: Duba Sambolec, umetnica in pedagoginja: “umetniške šole so danes neke
vrste oaze svobode”, Photograph for Illustration Purposes Only, December 2020, pg.4-9.
Jaques RANCIERE, The Emancipated Spectator, London 2009, pg. 20.
not be “overwritten” by the knowledge of their professor. There is a danger of the teacher (or the academy) becoming too subjective, instructive, or explanatory in their teaching, instead of simply leading their students down a path, which they have already created with their own pre-known knowledge. To quote Ranciere again – “There is no ignoramus who does not already know a mass of things, who has not already learnt them by herself, by listening and looking around her, by observation and repetition, by being mistaken and correcting her errors.” Teachers of art should be specifically conscious of the inherently subjective character of their field and strive to keep their guidance as objective as possible. Consequently their students will have the freedom to be more subjective and experimental in their artistic expression, and therefore also more confident in their own works, as well as the skills they need to acquire in order to realise them.
Another concerning element of artistic education is expressed by Ute Meta Bauer in her essay Education, Information, Entertainment: Current Approaches in Higher Arts
Education. Bauer brings to light that art schools often show little concern for anything other than artistic production, be it alternative modes of distribution or teaching their students self-organisation, which might counteract certain trends to treat art either as exclusive “good” for those who can aﬀord it, or towards the degradation of art and culture to the status of a mere service. She also adds that introducing the complex 53
relationships of the art world and more specifically, the art market, in order to encourage critical reflection, should be an essential part of students’ learning. In some places this concept is already in practice – Duba Sambolec on the other hand, mentions that when she taught in Norway, one of the first things that students learned was that first of all, every school is an institution. In this case the students who are interested in working on projects, which include the critique or submersion of institutionalism, are equipped with insight into its structure, which they can then deconstruct and analyse.
This leads me to another important aspect of the institutionalisation of arts; the critical leverage or power of artworks which question and explore the notion of artistic
production, but then return to exactly those artistic institutions that dictate the forms of production, which they are questioning. The cultural industry mainly serves the interests of neoliberal economics, which praise “the benefits of the mixing of cultures or hybridity”
within the art world and therefore take the liberal side of globalisation, supposedly
Ute Meta BAUER, Education, Information, Entertainment: Current Approaches in Higher Arts Education,
in: Curating and the Educational Turn (eds. Paul O’Neill & Mick Wilson), Amsterdam, 2010, pg. 103.