How do the wealthy as a governing class continue to maintain and enhance their social and political legitimacy through this economic and culture crisis? One strategy: asserting the language and belief in individual merit, personal worth, and autonomy from collective determination, the ruling elite position themselves on the side of the just. Yet exactly this configuration of claims is no less the central to the critical tenets of contemporary art.
Mobilized through an appreciation and support of contemporary art, wealth power is then not only justified because it supports a social good (art in its politically progressive claims) but is moreover itself just according to the values heralded in contemporary art and its generic claims. Equally, the celebration of art (and the art system) is a celebration of the progressiveness of the ruling elites. Contemporary art is not in a forced marriage with the ruling elites and perhaps not even one of mutual convenience, but one of true mutual love (of art).
Suhail Malik is a writer and holds a Readership in Critical Studies at Goldsmiths, London. Recent publications include: “Tainted Love: Art’s Ethos and Capitalization” (with Andrea Phillips) in Art and Its Commercial Markets (2012), “Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Participate Again - Communism, Its Recurring Nightmare” in Waking Up From the Nightmare of Participation (2011), “Why Art? The Primacy of Audience” Global Art Forum, Dubai (2011); “The Wrong of Contemporary Art: Aesthetics and Political Indeterminacy” (with Andrea Phillips) in Reading Rancière (2011); “Educations Sentimental and Unsentimental: Repositioning the Politics of Art and Education” in Redhook Journal (2011); “Screw (Down) The Debt: Neoliberalism and the Politics of Austerity” in Mute, 2010; “You Are Here” for Manifesta 8 (2010).
In cooperation with the Curatorial and Critical Studies program.