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As early as art historian Carol Duncan pinpointed a fundamental, though typically overlooked feature of high culture: that the majority of professionally trained artists make up a vast surplus whose redundancy is the normal condition of the art market. More than twenty years later, a policy study by the California-based Rand Corporation reinforced and updated these observations describing an even more unsettling picture of the art world. One of the key questions addressed in my book Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise is not only what this glut of creativity consists of, but what function does it have in relation to the art world establishment?

Is this less visible, other art world a kind of noise over which the bright articulate signal of success and value is superimposed?

Or is there yet a deeper complicity between noise and signal? To answer these questions I appropriated a concept from theoretical astrophysicists who inform us that as much as ninety-five percent of the visible universe is allegedly made up of an unknown, unseen form of matter and energy.

After all, this shadowy surplus plays a key role in the art world by purchasing art supplies, trade magazines, and museum memberships, while also serving the system in the role of studio assistants, interns often unpaid , adjunct teachers always underpaid , art fabricators and installers and so on. All this may seem obvious, or it may come off as extremely cynical, however what I attempt to do in the book is take this metaphor of cultural dark matter a step further by asking if this missing mass is not also a potential seedbed of resistance to the system that dominates it, a resistance that might, circumstances permitting, overtake and reshape the very topography of the contemporary art world?

By naming and delineating this artistic glut, by effectively celebrating its redundancy and negativity, I attempt to reveal dark matter as a potentially vibrant agency already engaged in proto-political processes of non-market gift giving, informal self-organizing, and in some cases, overt political resistance. At the same time I also admit the possibility that what I am describing as a missing creative mass could also become a reactionary force of resistance. The final lines of my book allude to this haunting though unpredictable power by suggesting that every now and again,.

Either by coincidence, or simply as a result of the same historical urgency that compelled me to write Dark Matter in the first place, it was only a few months after the book appeared in print that events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and then the occupations on Wall Street and elsewhere emerged, dramatically redefining the theoretical parameters of my thesis.

At the same time, the occupation breathed life into dozens of smaller subdivisions and working groups, from the practical, such as Jail Support, and Medics, to the more imaginary such as Direct Action Painters, and Arts and Culture—one of the largest groups, which in turn spawned its own sub-subdivisions including Arts and Labor, Alternative Economies, and Occupy Museums. Over the past few months these subgroups have generated a series of teach-ins, email exchanges, website postings, and.

Rejecting sleep, embracing redundancy, acknowledging the archive: not only has Occupy Wall Street OWS attempted to re-write its relationship with capitalism, but its fair to say OWS artists demand to know where their history is, why it has been exiled, and by whom? We are its dead capital. It is the dawn of the dead. It is an intervention and call to arms for the ninety-nine percent.

Lippard, among others. It contains a range of materials including folders on anarchism, graffiti, gentrification, and feminism, but it also houses documents about dozens of individual artists who submitted their work to the group and whose stories were ultimately included in the collection. Image: G. Image: Herb Perr. The REPOhistory collective consisted of NYC-based artists and activists whose primary conceit was to act as the self-appointed amateur historians for those who lacked visibility within public spaces where official commemorative statues and bronze plaques held sway.

REPOhistory made the past uncomfortable for the present, directly on the streets of the city. REPOhistory proposed an installation that looked like a bank break-in by creating the illusion of a huge tunnel dug down into the nearby subterranean gold vaults beneath the Reserve. Scattered about the work site would be information about the financial history of the United States.

Battles for Justice in New York City, the group discovered several of the signs missing including this piece by Marina Gutierrez protesting illegal discriminatory housing quotas at a City-owned building in Brooklyn. Just about the time REPOhistory became entangled with the administration of Rudolph Giuliani in , the Mayor had lost an important case brought against him and the City for confiscating the work of artists who were selling art on city sidewalks.

The lawsuit stated that such sales fell under the Constitutional Protection of Freedom of Speech, and the judges agreed. Image Gregory Sholette. Pictured is video artist Ernie Larson.

Image G. Occupy Detroit, October 26, Occupy Galway, Ireland, November 1, Occupiers leaving Zuccotti Park on their way to the Brooklyn Bridge carrying aloft a cardboard painting along Lower Broadway, October 1, Marsha P. Johnson was a famed transgender activist who was most likely murdered in a bias-related crime in Battles for Justice in New York City, — Sholette Occupy Detroit, October 26, Sholette Occupy Galway, Ireland, November 1,



Due to scheduling restrictions, a real-time one-on-one interview was not possible. The questions in the following text are mostly retrospectively inspired by his informative response with my edits and his consent , which includes references to some of his published works. Does occupying one space preclude occupying the other? Gregory Sholette GS : I think it is important to clarify a couple of questions about my concepts that you might have misunderstood because my dark matter thesis does not propose a simple opposition between centre and periphery. In brief, artistic dark matter refers to the marginalised and systematically underdeveloped aggregate of creative productivity that nonetheless reproduces the material and symbolic economy of high art. Think of the way the majority of art school graduates will, ten years or less after graduating, find themselves working as exhibition installers or art fabricators, rather than living off the sales of their own art.


From an Imaginary Interview with Gregory Sholette

Finally, a history of collective precarity from a politicized artist. He writes:. The archive has split open. We are its dead capital. It is the dawn of the dead. This blatant appeal to the use-value of our necrophilia, artistic waste, and the products of our labor and time runs throughout an historical text, alternately conscious of its own limitations and brilliantly pervasive in its political critique and arts research.


Dark Matter

Series: Marxism and Culture. Shows that the elite of the art world are sustained by new forms and styles created by artists outside the mainstream. In his exquisite and theoretically informed style Gregory Sholette investigates the problematic functions of art practices in the processes of neoliberal appropriation, but above all the wild, explosive and deterritorialising lines that are drawn in the dark matter between art and politics' - Gerald Raunig is a philosopher and art theorist who lives in Vienna, Austria. He is the author of Art and Revolution. Capitalist crisis does not begin within art, but art can reflect and amplify its effects, to positive and negative ends. This outlines how and why we collect, store and use your personal data when you use our website. Like most websites, we use cookies to improve our service and make your user experience better.

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