"If it doesn't hurt it's not Art," my old Dance teacher used to say. It took me decades of Artworld experience before I figured out what she meant: Art under Capitalism is like every other endeavor under Capitalism; pain and hurt aren't the incidental by-product of the process, they're a constitutive part. Could you fully enjoy your night at that hip hotspot, Mr. Hipster, if it wasn't for the bouncer? Would your Rothko be as enjoyable, Mrs. Gotrocks, if everybody owned a Rothko? Like Ted Adorno said,
The consumer is really worshipping the money that he himself has paid for the ticket... He has literally 'made' the success [of the performance or artwork] which he reifies and accepts as an objective criterion, without recognizing himself in it. But he has not 'made' it by liking the concert, but rather by buying the ticket.
If the commodity in general combines exchange-value and use value, then the pure use-value, whose illusion the cultural goods must preserve in completely capitalist society, must be replaced by pure exchange-value, which precisely in its capacity as exchange-value deceptively takes over the function of use-value.
[Diderot wrote some interesting things about this, too.]
My pals Greg Sholette and Andrew Ross are trying to raise the dough to get to Abu Dhabi and report on the conditions there. It's one of the great privilege of New Yorkers that they can do that, because New York State is one of the few places in the World where you can actually reveal the truth without being hit with a huge slapsuit. People in Europe who have tried to pull this off have been forced into silence.
So if you're willing to pay twenty-five smackers for your museum admission because that's what sets you apart from those who don't truly appreciate Art, why not fork out the same so you can find out in exquisite detail how the indentured slaves of Abu Dhabi labor just for you, so you can truly enjoy your next hip trip to the GugAbDhab? Think of it as the equivalent of buying a fur coat. Plastic bunny doesn't cut it.
Saadyst Island. I'm Loving It!
- From the Ghetto, this is James Jackson Jiveass signing off.
March 5, 2015.
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Rrose Sélavy and I we appreciate the bruises of indentured workers with their exquisite pain.