22 September 2016

"We can’t allow our problems to stop us from dreaming"

"Plato was about to Strike his Servant, and while his hand was in the Ayr, he checkt himself, but still held it in that Menacing Posture. A Friend of his took notice of it, and askt him what he meant. I am now, sayes Plato, punishing of an Angry Man" - Seneca

8 September 2016

The Frosted Curtain

“Because New York City, the main target of the terrorists, is the nation’s arts center, the impact of September 11 on artists and cultural institutions was felt nationwide. Immediate action was taken by the Heritage Emergency National Task Force to assess structures and collections in the areas of the 9/11 attacks. Within hours, the American Association of Museums reported that all New York museum staff were accounted for and museum collections safe.
However, on the 105th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the Cantor Fitzgerald investment firm had suffered the horrific loss of hundreds of employees. The world’s largest corporate collection of works by sculptor Auguste Rodin and numerous works by Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, and Louise Nevelson were destroyed. Next door in the South Tower, the National Development and Research Institutes Library was completely wrecked, as were the offices of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. The Broadway Theater Archive, with 35,000 photographs, that stood a block from the World Trade Center was also lost, and 13  other historically or architecturally significant structures, including the Federal Hall National Memorial, were damaged.
In the days and weeks immediately following September 11, Americans turned to the arts, especially to music and poetry, to express their grief. Media focused on the dark stages of Broadway and paid little attention to the blight of the nonprofit arts community. Congress debated how to expedite relief to New York City while arts groups navigated eligibility requirements to secure loans from the Small Business Administration and aid from the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency.
The economic impact of the terrorist attacks on each of the arts fields was assessed by the NEA. There was a dramatic downturn in year-end giving to nonprofit arts organizations as donors directed giving to 9/11 charities. Revenues were lost from cancelled performances and low attendance at arts events. The general economic slump, decline in tourism and travel, and reduction in state tax revenues brought about cuts in state and local arts budgets. New York City announced a 15 percent across-the-board cut in funding for cultural organizations. Insurance costs rose, in part because of increased security needs at public performances.”
National Endowment for the Arts: A History, 1965–2008

“Yet anyone who has witnessed the art events of the past decade carefully might come to a very different conclusion. On the one hand, there has been an intensification of the critique of art's institutionalization, a deepening of the rupture with modernism. On the other hand, there has been a concerted effort to marginalize and suppress these facts and to reestablish the traditional fine arts categories by all conservative forces of society, from cultural bureaucracies
to museum institutions, from corporate boardrooms to the marketplace for art. And this has been accomplished with the complicity of a new breed of entrepreneurial artists, utterly cynical in their disregard of both recent art history and present political reality. These newly heralded "geniuses" work for a parvenu class of collectors who want art with an insured resale value, which will at the same time fulfill their desire for mildly pornographic titillation, romantic cliche, easy reference to past "masterpieces," and good decor. The objects on view to celebrate the reopening of MOMA were made, with very few exceptions, to cater to this taste, to rest easily over the sofa in a Trump Tower living room or to languish in a bank vault while prices escalate. No wonder then that McShine ended his catalogue introduction with the very special hope "to encourage everyone to be in favor of the art of our time." Given what he has presented as the art of our time, his currying of our favor could hardly be at odds with that of the sponsors of the exhibition, the AT&T Corporation, who mounted a new advertising campaign to coincide with the show. "Some of the masterpieces of tomorrow are on exhibit today," reads the ad's banner headline, under which appears a reproduction of one of Robert Longo's recent glorifications of  corporate style, now in MOMA's permanent collection. That corporate interests are in perfect accord with the art presented in MOMA's inaugural show is a point underscored in the catalogue preface written by the museum's director, whose long paragraph of praise and thanks to AT&T contains the following statement: "AT&T clearly recognizes that experiment and innovation, so highly prized in business and industry, must be equally valued and supported in the arts."”
— Douglas Crimp, The Art of Exhibition