A couple weeks back we were in the UK overwhelmed by a single news item about which surely too much was been said and written. There’s nothing I want to say about the subject herself but the collective looking back to the 80’s does lead one to consider how what happened then influences now. Whatever the merits or otherwise of the sea change in the UK economy from its industrial base to a financial and social service something else happened to the way in which the visual arts are produced, disseminated and consumed. The ‘Loadsamoney’ culture created (and initially sustained) the ‘Loadsart’ society. It’s probably ironic that the poster boy for this ripped off another wide boy, a commodities broker in NYC, and they have both since joined the international fiscal ‘elite’ having turned the art market into just another commodity along the way. So much of what passes for ‘interesting’ contemporary art owes everything to this…which is strange really as so many of these earnest young (and now not so young) ‘artists’ (I have coined the term ‘stuffists’ for many of them) profess to having left of centre political views.
My reflections on the past seem a little indulgent when set against the way things are going globally. Some time back my wife was asked, out of the blue, to permit a news journal, La Monde Diplomatique, to publish a few of her pictures accompanying an article within. We liked it so much she took out a sub…and this month’s issue contains a very thoughtful and thought provoking lead article by Serge Halimi on the global economic climate. A day or two after I’d read this I chanced across Gavin Esler’s interview with the amazing Dr Cornel West on Newsnight who in a few minutes seemed to sum up much of what Serge had written. I am now avariciously consuming West’s book The Rich & the Rest of Us…who knows maybe something really is afoot?