d.garcia on Tue, 6 Jan 2015 03:29:09 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Death of the Artist -- and the Birth of th

Maybe its time to turn to the writings of a true art lover

Someone who values in the possibility of radical singularity and
autonomous expression.

So let me recommend Art critic and theorist Thierry de Duves wonderful
little book, Sewn in the Sweatshops of Marx, as a useful way to engage
with the powerful contemporary myth of creativity. Although the books
overt subject is the work of four legendary modern artists, Beuys,
Warhol, Klein and Duchamp, what gives these essays relevance, is that he
examines the work and lives of theses artists through the lens of the
political economy.

All four essays are of interest but from the perspective of this posting
it is the first two chapters (juxtaposing the art and personalities of
Beuys and Warhol) which generate the most important insights. From the
friction between the two radically differing narratives we can
extrapolate the key contradictions and paradoxes that constitute the
core propositions of the Creative industries; universal creative
participation through user generated content and the perpetual
stimulation of desire and thus commerce.

In Duve's writing we encounter Beuys, as the last truly great exponent
of the romantic movement, an artist for whom creativity was the
potential that resided in each and every one of us. It lead to his twin
proposition that not only was everyone was an artist but also that art
could no longer be seen as a profession. For Beuys capitalism remained
the cultural horizon to leave behind...Beuys based his art is based on
will and thus on the principal of production, Warhol based art on desire
and thus the principle of consumption;This inescapable binary are like
the two sides of the creative industries coin, universal creativity (or
compulsory innovation) and endless commerce.

But Warhol was perhaps more prescient anticipating the core shift in
power relations that was taking place where the figure of the consumer
takes center stage alongside (or even instead of) the worker, or better
where these two figures are merged. Hardt and Negri thus speak of
affective labor, Duve claims that Beuys believed in creativity and
Warhol did notfor Beuys art was labor while for Warhol it was commerce.
But despite the apparent gulf between these two artists something
separates these two artists from the Creative Industries and it is not
simply capitalism. After all  the very essence of Warhol's work is to
ignore use value and exclusively instantiate exchange value. What
separates Warhol and Beuys from the denizens of the Creative Industries
to come was that they both (in radically different ways) inhabited what
Duve describes as a 19th century invention, the mythical country of

Duve describes a country peopled where flaneurs and dandies cross paths
with peddlers and rag pickers; and the only one radically denied a visa
is the bourgoeois..Dickens and Zola have described this dark fringe of
industrialization, these shady interstices of urbanization. ..(also
Baudelaire and Hugo) they drew inspiration from this marginal society
but also contributed to the fabrication of its image. .. Daumier, Degas,
Toulouse Lautrec the Picasso of the Blue and Rose period To this gallery
of portraits Beuys adds his own..." And so does Warhol But the
inhabitants of Warhols version of bohemia, the inhabitants of the
Factory have no access to the 19th centurie's most powerful invention,
the weapon of solidarity.  encapsulated by Marxs conception of the
prolatarian class "as united through their labor power as individuals
both belonging to the exploited alienated class and carrying the
emancipated destiny of species." Duve  points out Warhol's superstars
are all isolated individuals.

"Their were no social types in Warhols bohemia, no acrobats or
ragpickers, but rather proper names: Edie Sedgwick, Gerard Malanga, Ron
Tavel, Brigid Polk, Candy Darling, Viva, Ondine, Billy Name each with
his or her quirks, neurosis, sexual speciality, and idiom.". In the end
they are victims, victims of Warhol's exploitative regime, and the means
by which this was achieved points to the future described. A creative
economy based on mass self-exploitation and affective labor.


d a v i d  g a r c i a

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