Dear Noah Fischer:
First of all my thanks, and the thanks of many, many among us in the art world, for joining our fight and for bringing into the open the disgraceful dependency of so-called "High Culture" in America on the oligarchic 1%. As you put it so well:
For the last few decades, voices of dissent have been silenced by a fearful survivalist atmosphere and the hush hush of BIG money. To really critique institutions, to raise one’s voice about the disgusting excessive parties and spectacularly out of touch auctions of the art world while the rest of the country suffers and tightens its belt was widely considered to be bitter, angry, uncool. Such a critic was a sore loser.
Unfortunately, I can't say that I recognize myself in this "sore loser" you invoke. Nor, I'm sure, would an artist like my friend Filip Noterdaeme, whose homeless museum project has done more over the past ten years to protest the unspeakable relationship of Capital and Kulcha than a barrelful of demonstrators. Nor the countless museum curators, educators and line workers among my friends who have courageously and quietly resisted the stranglehold of finance capital over decades. All things fall and are built again, and those who build them again are...hopeful, and at the present time one cannot work in the Culture world without the hope, expressed or not, of some day seeing the whole structure collapse; I can only regret that you do not share that hope. Just as a lackey in Old Regime France might smile to himself, so, too, many among us who work in the museum world have.... well, we have our dreams, and our demands, spoken or not.
Unfortunately, and speaking for myself alone, I have to say I found your own group's demands confusing - and hardly avant-garde. The idea that, perhaps, the Museum of Modern Art should have a few free nights? Aren't you setting the bar a little bit too low? Many of us have long demanded accessible admissions in all museums, all the time, as a condition of their so-called "not-for-profit" mission. This would, of course, mean a radical redefinition of the role of museums in American culture, and the tone of your message suggests that this is a little more, perhaps, than you have in mind. In fact, your overall tone suggests to me that you would be perfectly happy if the structure were to remain unchanged, so long as it admitted the likes of you. That was pretty much the goal of the Art Workers' Coalition, back in the late 'sixties: in the end the "democratization" of Art extended to themselves, and no further.
I would suggest that your manifesto might have been considerably strengthened if you had addressed, or promised to address the following questions, among others:
These are challenging topics, and I look forward to discussing them further with you, and with all the comrades, uptown, downtown, Wall Street or Fifth Avenue.
Paul Werner, PhD, DSFS.
Author, Museum Inc., Inside the Global Art World; The Red Museum. Art, Economics and the Ends of Capital. Editor, WOID: a journal of visual language.