Is finding art useful a problem?

Originally published on the Journal of Wild Culture, March 2013.

Is finding art useful a problem? That is the topic up for discussion at GV Art this evening, as Dr Daniel Glaser seeks to provoke extremes of reaction from the assembled artists, scientists, curators and writers seated on both sides of a long table in the basement of the Marylebone-based gallery.

With the art world apparently bifurcating between superstar art-brands, globe-trotting gallerists and UHNWIs on the one hand, and box-ticking, community-interaction projects on the other, it’s a timely question. When the Arts Council began its campaign to prevent the coalition government cutting its funding, one of the driving arguments was that art was a revenue generator, an efficient catalyst for growth in an otherwise struggling economy. It failed. Yet the ‘Bilbao effect’ has still been credited with reviving the fortunes of sundry flagging towns, and its logic can be seen in the proliferation of statement galleries as catch-all solutions for towns as diverse as Margate, Colchester, Gateshead…

Into this gap between oligarchal trophyism and government retreat have stepped a number of alternative funding mechanisms – an essential development to maintain the (only relatively recently) professionalised ‘culture industries’. Print sales websites, online galleries, brand collaborations, artist-represented fairs, crowdfunding, private foundations, scientific institutions: all have a growing place in the market of culture.

But this is not simply a question of funding. Artists, as human beings, do not exist in a vacuum and their work may always be seen as a response to the issues of the day. With capitalism apparently in crisis and climate change arguably the greatest threat to the future of humanity, it is hardly surprising that artists, writers and musicians have something to say on such matters.

Continue reading on the Journal of Wild Culture.