Fishbowler

I make art in strange places and blog about it.

Artists Know the Trickle Down Smells Like Piss

Bureaucracy is any system designed to slow down progress. We can’t have anyone excelling too quickly–no one is to be trusted. We wanna make sure no one gets too far outta’ line and a paper trail is needed at every turn.

Bureaucracy is designed to keep everyone huddled as closely as possible. And to be clear, I’m talking about Socialized programs and a system not inherently bad, just a system that’s outgrown its practicality. Transparency is a hard ideal to realize and it’s the scale of an effective organization that is in question here. A giant monster of a government is far from transparent. Just watch the news, lack of effective communication is featured every day.

Most often, activity in the art world is aided by governmental funding and juried consensus. There are ‘experts’ to tell us what is Art or what’s not Art. We’re told to look ‘up’ to find out what’s worthy. I’m of the opinion that trickle-down governance smells like piss. I’d much rather see rampant, unqualified creativity. Artistically, the invisible hand will naturally weed out the slackers.

This is not an anti-Socialism rant, it is my educated observation that we’re in a new age. It’s time for artists to sacrifice the acceptance of free money from above. Private citizens have lost respect for art because artists have become rear-guard. The connection has been broken but it’s not too late. Artists have become a weak species. It is the non-institutional people that should be taking up the reins of art funding and It’s the artists’ own job to get their work admired and famous and bought!

At one time we had the Church, in all its patronage, to fund the Artworld. We had pontiffs, priests and popes to thank for featuring an artistic lineage of the brightest talents mankind had to offer. The common man was in awe of human ability. Taken optimistically, the Church’s patronage, throughout the dark ages and later into the Renaissance, put the most deeply beautiful creations of man in front of us. Their slant was that if you served the God that we advocate, you too can be a part of this kind of beauty.

The Church was cutting edge. The Church was in control; the Church was rich.

It certainly was a form of trickle-down governance/coercion, and the ensuing backlash later came in the form of privatization. In the nineteenth century, private institutions and individuals, such as the bankers and robber barons became the patriarchs of high Art. The Church had eventually lost its luster and American style hustle was becoming the new hero. It’s true the Church still owned all the art that they had amassed and it WAS still important art, it’s just that the most cutting edge examples of talent were no longer being backed by any religion. Private taste was now the arbiter of best. Capitalism, private industriousness led the way and the common man could find power within himself if he just worked harder.

And then along came Socialism and ideals of trickle-down economics. We were shown that culture could be handed down to us by bureaucratic machines and that tax dollars, pooled together, could fund a watered down mass of art. The trickle became a flow and artists were taught to scrape around until the trickle fed them. Tricks were commissioned by the government and cohesive forms of agreed upon art became symbols of high culture. At last the governments of the world could be seen as the patrons of beauty, and artists, the beneficiaries of democracy and the children of bureaucracy.

We affected change and also a kind of harmony amongst the race by complicating things. When it’s public money, we don’t want any one person or group to get too much. We’re all equal, right?

It’s a strange concept, possibly a little counter-intuitive, but the bureaucratic morass was concocted as a device of systematic complication. The downfall has been that only institutionally familiar artists continue to receive this governmental windfall. The paperworkers of the artworld continue to push bland art through the system in return for funding. It’s not ironic but sad that they are the artists already receiving salaries from public institutions for their service in teaching.

What’s worse is that this complicated system to give art educators more money to engage in creativity is stifled more and more each year monetarily by senate committees. Academic incestuous cronies fight for more money while the individualists stand out in the cold.

But I’m wondering if the time for complication is over. Can we afford to expend energy, time and money on governmental departments that are supposed to insure imposed equality? This current form of government that values Capitalistic competition combined with Socialistic equalization has been a useful balance, but in some areas of government, it’s my observation that too much energy is expelled on archaic forms of impeded function and at the price of what used to be the miracle of art, namely, giving the public something AMAZING, not just something acceptable. Too much energy has been wasted at the top to impact the bottom, the day-to-day, the huddled masses, the common artist.

A village is a concentration of people that personally know each other. It’s easy to tell who’s got the energy to lead and who’s going to help. The brightest stars of art are privileged individuals, entrusted because they have exceptional minds. Their job is to show the way. The village will follow them as they share.

Maybe the time is ripe for a government of a more tribal kind. Notice the blogosphere. Journalism is not objective. Journalism had been presented as something pseudo-Socialistic and we finally became acutely aware that it was, in fact, Capitalistic and opinionated. Now we have a choice and these old forms of misinformation are being overturned. Blogging won.

As media empires grew and history educated us of misdeeds and slanted information gathering and dissemination, people like Rupert Murdoch and William Randolph Herst have been exposed as self-interested posers, tricking people into believing that their news was objective–neutral. It was made clear that Fox news is not objective but politically conservative in its opinions.

Online social media is killing the old ideas of objective journalism. No one is fully objective and blogs are more upfront about their own slants. The blogosphere is anarchic. It self-polices. And it’s such a full space online that no website or blog has monopolies in municipalities. The blogosphere is tribal; like minded individuals have many choices of what news to read online and no one is forced in any way to read any particular newspaper.

My interest is for artists to think in this way once again. We haven’t had an art movement, proper, in a long time, and it’s my belief that the public art funding machine has ended such a tribal kind of banding together. Let’s end this blandness, we know each other, we’re capable and we’re LEADERS!

Transcendent Zero Press

Bureaucracy is any system designed to slow down progress. We can’t have anyone excelling too quickly–no one is to be trusted. We wanna make sure no one gets too far outta’ line and a paper trail is needed at every turn.

Bureaucracy is designed to keep everyone huddled as closely as possible. And to be clear, I’m talking about Socialized programs and a system not inherently bad, just a system that’s outgrown its practicality. Transparency is a hard ideal to realize and it’s the scale of an effective organization that is in question here. A giant monster of a government is far from transparent. Just watch the news, lack of effective communication is featured every day.

Most often, activity in the art world is aided by governmental funding and juried consensus. There are ‘experts’ to tell us what is Art or what’s not Art. We’re told to look ‘up’ to…

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3 responses to “Artists Know the Trickle Down Smells Like Piss

  1. Tom smith 03/14/2012 at 5:27 am

    I’m assuming you either have rich parents who have saved adequately for their retirement or you are rich enough to provide for their well being? Or will you simply put them on a raft and push them out to sea. I do not understand your rants against Socialism. Socialized healthcare is a blessing for millions as is Social Security. For someone that has never lived in a society where crushing abject poverty is rampant and organized crime and brutality fills the void of social services. Living in crushing abject poverty is awful and horrendous. I like fire departments and traffic lights and potable drinking water. I like sharing the road with licensed drivers and eating food that has been inspected. I like living in a house that has passed inspection and driving a car that has passed numerous safety programs. Repeating the mindlessness of idiots serves no purpose but spread the arrogance of ignorance.

  2. Tom smith 03/14/2012 at 5:32 am

    It is bureaucracy that makes the internet function. Organization serves to streamline activities. It’s why you no longer need to code every page of your blog, retrieve water from a well or crap in a bucket and throw it in the street in the morning. People misbehaving or abusing their power is a totally different subject and a result of redistributing large sums of money into the hands of an elite few with no oversight or accountability. Don’t blame bureaucracy. If it wasn’t for bureaucracy, people of modest intelligence or strength or talent would have no way of competing fairly.

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