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e-flux conversations

"Emerging Artists and the New Spirit of Capitalism"

“My point is not that the emerging artist is more of a capitalist than Donald Trump, but that she better represents the new spirit, and that the gap between them is not nearly as large as is sometimes supposed. Both are following the same model, or living in the same city, so to speak. This is what makes contemporary capitalism so interesting and so complex, the way in which patterns and techniques typically associated only with the easy target of corporate life now easily blend and blur with life on so many other levels, even in creative areas we might assume to be most opposed to it. Capitalism and anti-capitalism now effectively share the same structure and vocabulary.”


Here is a discussion with Luc Boltanski on the meaning and future of artistic critique, with a text by JEQU published by Primary Information. Can download at http://www.primaryinformation.org/product/jequ

"JEQU: What does this mean for art’s critical agency? Has art been relegated to rearticulating the realm of things as they already are?

Luc Boltanski: I think that it is currently very difficult in general to maintain a critical function through symbolic instruments. It’s particularly difficult to have a critical function through art."

“JEQU: In The New Spirit, you make the point that artistic critique is a merely a refinement of capitalism’s critique of traditional culture”

Luc Boltanski: … it’s always capitalism that has made revolutions. And basically, the revolutionaries have always been late for a revolution in capitalism."


I was at a talk that Boltanski did for an anniversary of Text Zur Kunst in Berlin a few years ago. When the conversation turned to the precarious nature of economy of artists, further amplified by cuts in cultural spending across Europe, Boltanski said that he does not understand why artists don’t just become curators and solve their difficulties in that way. Frankly, i think his understanding of art and lives of artists is superficial at best, despite his famous artist brother or maybe precisely because of that.