Given that art has human value (without– or suspending definition of what that is), it follows that the labor of the artist merits support. This entails meeting basic human needs for the artist, seeing that tools, supplies and space for making art are available. How that support is offered, where and by what means it’s obtained is not a matter of indifference for art or artist, but will have the power to affect and control both art and artist.
There is an unavoidable entanglement of the production of art and artist with the economic, social, political, and cultural, machines (thank you Levi Paul Bryant ), through which support is procured. The gallery-investment-collector-museum-gentrification-reward-machines will select that which maintains and enhances their operations, and reject what threatens them. The flow of money is the mother’s milk that fuels these machines, and those who control the flow of money will not abide anything that challenges their territorial power. If you are an artist, and court what passes for ‘success’ in this system, you will, no matter how firmly you believe in your aesthetic purity, or how hard you work to compartmentalize your creative work to shield it from the machinery you have made yourself dependent on, you will be making art that serves that system. You will be a useful servant of the Empire of Money and Death.
There was no need to define the value of art and the artists labor, because it will be defined by the machines that distribute the reward and how they make use of it. Artistic freedom will be the reward of the parasites, the rebels, thieves and refusers. When you see one of those great, expensive, powerful works of public art, those magnificent museum worthy pieces, made possible by grants and awards, by the flow of money–tell yourself, that is not what artists who value their freedom do. That is not what a free creative soul aspires to do–it’s a temptation, a seduction to join the stable of the pimps who run the machines… the machines that build the prisons and make the drones and turn everything human into a means of profit. Why am I not hearing this conversation from artists everywhere? How do we survive without supporting the machinery of slavery and death? What kind of art can we make–how does that change what we are given to do, how does that shape our creative vision? Why am I not hearing this conversation from artists everywhere?