The Gentrification of Culture

pattycakes_

Well-known member
Wasn't intentional, but just realized that this thread aims squarely at the Brooklyn Culture Mafia. An ironic term if there ever was one because a more cowardly and spineless bunch of nobodies I struggle to think of. The delusional sense of self-worth only slightly eclipsed by the shrillness of their obnoxiousness. It generates content, stirs up talk, and granted, is full of drama. They're masters of the game: histrionic appeal to like-minded cretins who love nothing more than a bit of tabloid-grade juice, tarted up with lit references and luxury brands. Art school kids and tech bros, you know the types.. Of course it appeals to all the would-be Bacchanaleans of my gen and younger, who don't seem to be too concerned with shame or shallowness. In fact, part of the appeal is exactly the wallowing in all of that. Grotesque chic. My read on that whole situ runs fairly parallel to the first few posts upthread. A group of people unencumbered by financial restrictions playing out an ersatz schauspiel of the bohemian lives they've all read about and romanticized. They're educated, they have money, they know the right references to drop, but they don't have a single thing to say. They would of course laugh at such a criticism. Probably call it boring or something, followed by another expertly chopped and presented line of drugs from an heirloom trestle table. Not one thing any of these people will ever do or say will live up to the level of grandiosity they deliver it with. But the sheer force of conviction manages to hypnotize so many impressionable twats. And that, I have to admit, is a decent trick. But that's really all that's going on here. Cultural 3 card monty. A scam. Mezmeric trickery.
 
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Leo

Well-known member
My read on that whole situ runs fairly parallel to the first few posts upthread. A group of people unencumbered by financial restrictions playing out an ersatz schauspiel of the bohemian lives they've all read about and romanticized.

@suspended, doesn't this kinda nail it?
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
As a part-time idealist, I think it can be done but tales a lot of mental work. Being online all the time (irony on a forum, and yes I am an addict, too) has made us all so self aware. Social media. Visual representation as important as everything else. We all operate as little brands, carefully curating our images as much as we can. Well, not all of us, but many. And that's a powerful force of influence over our behavior. Was always thus? Maybe. But the internet multiplied it ten fold.
Have you heard of the Hawthorne effect? Where the studied subject's behavior changes when it's aware it's being monitored? And then what about when the subject is monitoring itself? Or what about monitoring itself while aware it's being monitored? Hehe. Some kind of mental matryoshka going on there. Layers and layers. All this is stifling, suffocating, totally oppressive. There would have to be a way of breaking out of it as much of this as possible. I'm picturing that last scene in THX1138. Breaking open the hatch of that relentless whiteness into the wide open spaces of nature.

I'm not addressing the main point here but just about self-awareness. Becoming self-aware is learning something and you would think that that ought to be a good thing, but it's almost always described as leading us in the wrong direction. Does it have to be like that though? Is it necessary that self-awareness is bad... I don't disagree that it is as a rule but is that absolutely necessary?

Imho, it's detrimental to take any of it anything beyond face value, but there is an F For Fakian art to the grift. Can't abide myself, but they played those cards well. From my pov, the crucial killer blow that era pulled was stripping out the emotional (soul searching, spiritual) aspect of art, which in turn brought it closer and made it more palatable to the vapid curators, experts and wealthy consumers, allowing for a much cosier host/parasite co-existence. I feel like this had the knock on effect of lowering the value in the mainstream eye of arts more concerned with matters of the soul and being 'real' etc. Yeah yeah (guess what, you, rolling your eyes, you're one of them.)

I read a book once called High-Art Lite which argued that at some point conceptual art was effectively replaced by art that looked like conceptual art but which had no concept to it (a trick that could never have been pulled with a Michelangelo for what it's worth) and he was definitely thinking of the YBAs as a big part of this. Sounds a lot like what you're saying here about taking the soul out of the art. Taking the art out of it really. One point that he made which rang very true was how, just as, say, Dolce and Gabbana do high culture catwalk shows with ridiculous pieces that no-one can afford, but make their real money by selling large quantities of plain white "designer" t-shirts with D&G on the front, Hirst et al make big artworks for museums and collectors but make loads of money selling spot paintings and other minor works, or even coffee table books and so on. In each case the grand stuff they are famous for is really an advert for the cheap sit they actually sell.
 

pattycakes_

Well-known member
I'm not addressing the main point here but just about self-awareness. Becoming self-aware is learning something and you would think that that ought to be a good thing, but it's almost always described as leading us in the wrong direction. Does it have to be like that though? Is it necessary that self-awareness is bad... I don't disagree that it is as a rule but is that absolutely necessary?



I read a book once called High-Art Lite which argued that at some point conceptual art was effectively replaced by art that looked like conceptual art but which had no concept to it (a trick that could never have been pulled with a Michelangelo for what it's worth) and he was definitely thinking of the YBAs as a big part of this. Sounds a lot like what you're saying here about taking the soul out of the art. Taking the art out of it really. One point that he made which rang very true was how, just as, say, Dolce and Gabbana do high culture catwalk shows with ridiculous pieces that no-one can afford, but make their real money by selling large quantities of plain white "designer" t-shirts with D&G on the front, Hirst et al make big artworks for museums and collectors but make loads of money selling spot paintings and other minor works, or even coffee table books and so on. In each case the grand stuff they are famous for is really an advert for the cheap sit they actually sell.

Actually had a thread brewing on this exact subject just before I rejoined. This one was kind of a tester and we can see how well it's done, but eh. The proper one's set to be dematerilization 2.0 easy, but there's still a lot of work to do to get it together. Not my usual way to prep for a thread but that subject deserves it. Obviously it will barely get any responses aside from a few half arsed luka ones when he's on a late night buzz and maybe a couple from yourself, but still, no reason not to spend hours crafting it to perfection, right?

This one was a bit half arsed on my part, tbf
 

shakahislop

Well-known member
music is the only artform that isn't mostly made by fancy people. films, visual art, TV, dance, all populated by people who have mostly always had a lot of cash. music seems to generally escape that; in fact i think a lot of people on here would probably agree that the good music quite often comes from working class people.
 

shakahislop

Well-known member
talking about art gallery art : it's millionaire land, in terms of the people who buy it, who work in the industry, the people who make it, and the people who wander into galleries. so not surprising that it sometimes speaks to quite a narrow range of concerns. obviously there is grit in the machine, people know this and are trying to fight it. nyc art land is going through a moment in terms of racial representation, which has a range of good and bad consequences but which is probably, overall, a bit of a step in the right direction

in contrast to what you say tho patticakes, I'm no art historian, but I think it's more or less always been like this, in the anglo world anyway, I don't think it's been the subject of a takeover
 
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shakahislop

Well-known member
TV is an interesting one coz in the UK at least it feels like the most working class artform. Incredibly democratic in terms of dissemination, mostly free, everyone has one, very responsive to what people actually like rather than critical mediation. But my impression is that the people involved in making it (deciding what gets made, actors etc) are pretty much from the UK elite.
 

Leo

Well-known member
music is the only artform that isn't mostly made by fancy people. films, visual art, TV, dance, all populated by people who have mostly always had a lot of cash. music seems to generally escape that; in fact i think a lot of people on here would probably agree that the good music quite often comes from working class people.

yeah, takes hundreds (or at least many tens) of thousands of dollars for make even a low-budget indie film, and it's a lot easier for filmmakers who come from money to find financial backers. in music, all an artist needs is a guitar, or computer with some software.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
music is the only artform that isn't mostly made by fancy people. films, visual art, TV, dance, all populated by people who have mostly always had a lot of cash. music seems to generally escape that; in fact i think a lot of people on here would probably agree that the good music quite often comes from working class people.
I get your point but there is also literature which... maybe there are more "fancy people" writing and encouraged to do so and so on, but in terms of actually just doing it, it probably has the lowest barrier to entry of them in that you don't need any stuff, expensive equipment or materials etc

Also, that may be the case now for visual art but I think that historically there have been a lot of poor artists, I think (assume/guess) that that is why sponsorship has always been so important to artists.
 

shakahislop

Well-known member
I get your point but there is also literature which... maybe there are more "fancy people" writing and encouraged to do so and so on, but in terms of actually just doing it, it probably has the lowest barrier to entry of them in that you don't need any stuff, expensive equipment or materials etc

Also, that may be the case now for visual art but I think that historically there have been a lot of poor artists, I think (assume/guess) that that is why sponsorship has always been so important to artists.
On art historically (like up to the 90s), I have no idea at all really. For literature, you're right obviously, there's basically no barrier to entry with the actual production of writing. There is a big barrier to doing writing full time rather than squeezed in around a job, and I think that's probably why at the moment everything I come across seems to be written by pretty fancy people - I feel like I'd have to actively search out things written by anyone else. My vague impression from listening to podcasts that interview with writers is that it's very difficult to support yourself just by writing unless you have some mega hit, even if you're moderately successful. I don't know though obviously and the last time I said something like this woops threatened to slash my face in.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I got a friend - through Liza - who does art, and this thread makes me think about recent developments in his career. I don't really know what the following means but it sort of seems relevant. This will be a long post, really it is a splurge of stuff about how someone I know has been affected by the intersection of money and art and business and so on. I guess it's just an example of what's discussed above but of course it becomes a million times more real when it's not "artists" or "business men" being discussed but real people with real names, more so if it's your friends. I'm just hoping that someone can be bothered to read the below and maybe can help me extract some meaning or moral from it all.

So this guy and his twin brother are Georgian and they used to paint icons in the orthodox church there and really they both wanted to be artists so they sort of went begging to this local rich businessman (oligarch I dunno) and he gave them some money to go to Europe and try and make it as artists. I don't really know the full story here cos this was before I knew them but they managed to go to Germany (in itself something that is not that easy if you're from Georgia I think, one time he wanted to come from Germany and visit Liza in London for a week and visit art galleries and then go back to Germany and they arbitrarily refused his visa so that was that, he simply couldn't come) and they had a bit of money left to support themselves for a while.

For the next step somehow they managed to both blag their way into the Kunstacademie in Dusseldorf - which is supposed to be one of the best art colleges in the world, whatever that means - which was crazy in that first they had to have citizenship papers or proof of residency or something to be allowed to attend and, not to put too fine a point on it, they met a forger (I think there was a story attached to this too but I can't remember it off the top of my head) who quickly made some for them at a reduced rate, and then they really did just talk their way in on the strength of the art they were able to show. Their stuff was deemed good enough that they circumvented the official process and were accepted which was an amazing achievement too. Of the two brothers, as I said at the start, one of them is a good friend of mine now but he is really quite shy and diffident etc, I just don't know how he managed that part. I think by all accounts his brother was the much more dynamic and pushy of the two, so I assume he was probably mainly responsible for that happening - but he later had this massive breakdown and when I've met him he has just been so heavily medicated he's like a zombie, I guess I never knew the real S (let's call him).

So after all that drama they got in and studied and worked* like mad which I assume is what caused his brother's stress overload. I think they thought that so many people had showed so much kindness to them and invested so much time or money or just belief in them that they really didn't want to let them down. I suppose, that's just speculation and my amateur psychology. Anyway, the point is, the other brother, L I'm calling him, got through the course, his tutor was Peter Doig and I think he feels that he learned a lot.

Eventually he graduated - I think it took him ten years - and tried to do something with all this, tried to sell art and make a living as an artist. And he did get this guy to represent him, a Dutch guy who had a studio in Amsterdam and who agreed to give him some (very little) money to make art and then to put on shows that displayed it and offered them for sale and, of course, to take a cut if anything sold. As per usual I suppose. And one time Liza and I went to see his show in Amsterdam and, really it was pathetic. I didn't know what to expect but not this - sure his stuff was stuck to the walls of a room and it was for sale and that was it really, we were there for the whole time it was open and maybe 20 people walked through and uninterestedly looked at it. Of those who did walk through, I can't imagine that the idea of buying any of it came close to crossing a single mind.

The guy who put on the show - is that his agent, I dunno - was some bloke whose dad was really rich. I suppose that he could pretty much afford to play at being in the art-world. He had several sad looking assistants, young women clearly picked for their looks and to make him look important. After the show we met up with his father and uncle I think it was who took a load of people associated with the gallery and the opening for a "celebratory" - and truly disgusting - Chinese meal. Father, son and uncle gave off this horrible sleazy vibe, I forget the details but I remember chatting to the assistants and they all seemed down-trodden and depressed. One was this Japanese girl and she was saying how she had been living in London but circumstances had forced her to leave and somehow the only place in Europe where she could stay was Holland - she told me that she hated it and, much to my surprise I'll admit, she was saying how people in London (I particularly remember her choice of word) were "kind" compared to the cold and formal Dutch, she talked at length about the barely disguised racism she faced daily in NL. The rich father and uncle talked/bragged the whole time about travelling round the world to buy Rembrandts and other similarly expensive artworks, making this horrendous meal seem like even more of a slap in the face.

END OF PART 1, PART 2 BELOW


*The one I am friends with now got a job at Salon des Amateurs and Liza sent him a mix and he passed it on to Detlef and he liked it and booked us to play and ultiamtely that's how we ended up knowing Lena and Vladimir and all that lot.
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
PART 2

The uncle seemed to be negotiating with someone on the phone and he was asking how old they were. Looking back I can't remember why we thought this or whether or not it was right, possibly it was just the cumulative atmosphere that made us paranoid and jump to the wrong conclusion, but Liza and I both got the idea that he was arranging to fuck two young prostitutes. Either way there was some kind of discussion of wealth and power and youth and beauty and these older guys proudly asserting the rights of the wealthy to take what they wanted and do what they liked with it. It became quite heated, one of them insulted Liza, the evening continued with the group going to a bar and stuff but we fucked off....

It was one of the most depressing days of my life I think. It was icey cold and windy and got dark at 2pm or something, Amsterdam seemed like hell on earth and I could not understand why our lovely friend was mixed up with these terrible people. And even worse than that, I wanted him to succeed, I wanted him to be happy and for the work he had put it in to pay off. I felt crushed to see months of his work half-heartedly displayed in some fucking shitty warehouse in some unknown part of Amsterdam and him at the mercy of these scumbags. I just thought that his life had gone wrong - or the art part of it, I couldn't see how he could move from where he was to selling a single painting, never mind having a career.

Time passed he worked in Salon des Amateurs and teaching art to kids, continually making art and selling almost none of it. I didn't see him for a long time after we moved to Portugal but earlier this year we DJ-d in Salon again and I spent a lot of time talking to him. He told me how he had met this very rich Swiss guy who wanted to represent him. This guy had offered him all kinds of stuff, told him to stop working and concentrate on making art - he promised to give him the money to live on while he did that and to buy him whatever materials he needed. But L was hesitant, it all seemed too good to be true. He said, I feel as though I will owe him something... he will almost own me. And so, hearing his concerns I advised caution, told him not to jump in, possibly just exchange one nightmare for another.

Next time I saw him was a few months later when he came to visit us in Lisbon, he had completely disregarded my advice and taken up wtih this new guy. And thank fuck for that. It seems that this bloke is some sort of saviour who has completely changed his life, made good on his promise and given him enough money that he doesn't need to work at all. He arranged one opening for him and sold more paintings at that opening that then previous guy sold in six years. He is giving him loads of encouragement and buying him materials and so on, put him together with loads of like-minded people and, best of all, it seems that he is not asking him to compromise of change his work in any way - and recently he took him to some restaurant in Geneva which cost 800 euros per head - and when they went in L was amazed to see one of his massive paintings on the wall of the restaurant. The only fly in the ointment is the Dutch guy who is going mental saying that L has betrayed him and demanding all the money and so on. L says that he has seen this guy before after people leave him and he just insults them and gets really angry about it. At the moment he seems to be trying a mixture of threats and emotional blackmail to persuade him to tell this kind, wealthy and effective Swiss benefactor to fuck off and go and be miserable with him. The stupid thing is that L is such a nice guy and so bad at saying no to people that I could almost imagine he does that. I think he somehow feels guilty. But that's by-the-by, there are loads of crazy details about the arguments going back and forth now between the Dutch guy and the Swiss one, the dividing of money, the things that have come out about the way the Dutch guy has acted and mistreated L consistently and for a long period... but they are not really relevant to the main issue here.

To me there is something weird about how this rich guy can just pick up our friend like a chess piece and change his life like that. Thing is, individually I am happy for him, I am glad that it looks like he may become successful. But the system where it is all at the mercy of these guys is crazy. Is L part of the commodification of art as discussed above? It's odd cos he has put in years of struggle and so on, but now he looks likely to succeed... and cos of money. But from L's point of view I don't know how he could have acted differently. From the start it needed a rich man to even get him out of Tiflis.

All this is quite hard for me to sum up. There are loads of questions I have and lots of things I can't put my finger on. And also I have to separate out how much I want good things for him to allow me to think dispassionately about the situation as a whole.
 
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pattycakes_

Well-known member
in contrast to what you say tho patticakes, I'm no art historian, but I think it's more or less always been like this, in the anglo world anyway, I don't think it's been the subject of a takeover

I don't know if takeover is the word I would use here. More an evolution of sorts. With focus what's happened to wealth distribution starting somewhere right around the millennium. There's way more nouveau-riche than there ever has been. The housing market. Dotcom. Crypto, and possibly the effect that's had on black market trade, just to name a few. On and on. Lots of moving parts. The amount of millionaires and billionaires has increased exponentially. I'm not getting at any intentional moves on some specific group's parts. More to do with way more players playing the same old games, just with new internetfrastructure exploding the possibilities for international trade & opening up so many more people's eyes to worlds that were once much more gated and insular (luxury stuff, art etc.) Plus the speed at which all of this moves and continues to evolve.

This shift has moved in perfect tandem with the gentrification process we've seen in almost all major cities as @Leo outlined in the BCM thread:
it's mostly due to the post-Guiliani/Bloomberg security state, which fueled gentrification and the general suburbanization and bland-ing of the city. Freaks have been driven out.

This is not just coincidence imho.

Something has happened to the arts on the whole. We've left certain things behind. Approaches. Attitudes. Mentalities. We've passively observed our once strong, vibrant, inspiring, challenging(!) cultures become diluted. We've been overran by mediocrity. Engulfed. But, maybe this is all just human nature running it's course and now with the net moving things at breakneck speed, it all feels that much more intense because the floor is giving way beneath our feet. Palpable evolution, and not in a good way. Not from an arts perspective.

And yes, there's always been an element of this stuff, but at least back in the day you had patrons supporting artists who were making art that actually had some substance*. What happened to that? I did cover some of this in the OP, but there's more to be explored.

*I realize that statement is a can of worms and a value judgement but I think it's a crucial point to what's changed.
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
On art historically (like up to the 90s), I have no idea at all really. For literature, you're right obviously, there's basically no barrier to entry with the actual production of writing. There is a big barrier to doing writing full time rather than squeezed in around a job, and I think that's probably why at the moment everything I come across seems to be written by pretty fancy people
Yeah broadly I do agree with your overall point. In fact, probably "fancy people" have an advantage in almost every field, maybe one doesn't notice it so much in fields without that entry barrier, but it's usually still there.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I came out of the tube there when I was in London the other day and I was completely confused, thought that I had somehow got out at the wrong stop.
 

pattycakes_

Well-known member
also could have gone in the "fuck London" thread


It shouldn't still be having this effect on me but fucking hell. Like some Sci Fi reality dreamt up by a massively coked up AI
 
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