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Contemporary-Art-Business: The New Orders of Contemporary Art

2020.12.11 – 2021.3.21
Seo Dongjin, Hito Steyerl, Kim Soohwan, Anton Vidokle, Boris Groys

Anton Vidokle, Sills from Immortality and Resurrection for All!, 2017, HD video, color, sound, 34min. 17sec. Courtesy of the artist. MMCA Collection

The exhibition Contemporary-Art-Business: The New Orders of Contemporary Art is organized with an intent to examine the new conditions and orders through which contemporary art becomes ‘art’ in relation to the operating logic of “absolute capitalism” where everything in our world is dominated by market principles. The exhibition also attempts to critically investigate the power dynamics inherent to the ‘politics of attention’ practiced by museums today. As one can see in phenomena where economic terms such as ‘attention economy’ and ‘experience economy’ intervene in the art market and become commonplace, capital is already making deep interventions in our visual life to reorganize its structure. In such a situation, we encounter the reality where exhibitions – which name “major trends/emerging artists” to reflect on the diversifying aspects of contemporary art within the historical, social, and cultural relationships – are losing their essential purpose and function to become spectacular events. The current exhibition delves into the objective examination of who museums function within the trend of contemporary art practice. At the same time, it attempts to rethink the genuinely internalized reference point to which exhibitions shall request in order to restore and re-execute their original purpose and function.

Anton Vidokle, Sills from Immortality and Resurrection for All!, 2017, HD video, color, sound, 34min. 17sec. Courtesy of the artist. MMCA Collection

The exhibition is organized in three chapters: Ⅰ. Contemporary Art Museum: Finance-Capital-Art, Ⅱ. The New Orders and Conditions of Contemporary Art in the Age of Absolute Capitalism, and III. The Newness of Contemporary Art Museums: Art’s Autonomy and Sovereignty. Chapter I examines the key characteristics of contemporary “present time,” which refers to the spacetime of neoliberal capitalism at its peak, as the basis of the order of contemporary art. Chapter II focuses on the reality that today’s art system is faced with, engaging questions such as how art can actually function within the world dominated by the neoliberal capitalism that is driven by privatization, financialization, and militarization and how artists and art institutions conspire with capitalism while being aware of the substantial power of capitalism. Such questions are examined through the works by Hito Steyerl, an artist who has been exposing the actual changes within contemporary art. Chapter III raises a question on “what museums we imagine and demand and how we can materialize the new order and structure” once again within the new order and conditions that have been established by the capitalist system.

Hito Steyerl, Sills from Duty Free Art, 2015, Three-channel HD digital video, sound, sandbox, 32min. 21sec. Courtesy of the artist

The chapter finds answers to the question by observing the historical pieces of radical/revolutionary museology that have been contemplating the values, functions, and roles of art and museum at moments of crisis. This process allows us to reconsider the value of “newness” in its true meaning, which has to be pursued by contemporary museums that perform the ‘politics of attention’ – the initial question of the current exhibition. The ‘politics of attention’ that contemporary art museums attempt to exercise is not entirely autonomous. Nevertheless, it constantly repeats the process of taking and revising its own political, social, and historical attitudes within the operation logic of cultural economy – functioning as one of the essential conditions to reflect the identity of the museum as universal history. In this sense, it can be said that museums are the only place that strives to face and accept their own limitation within the capitalist system. At the same time, museums are the only place that takes efforts to find the signal of new life after capitalism through artworks that produce the very radical possibility of detecting that signal as “newness.” This is why today’s museums do not cease to rethink the present and the role of art in it – often repeating to conspire with, invade, disassemble, and transcend the autonomy of art – although it is not possible to discuss the pure autonomy of art within the operating structure of absolute capitalism.

Image Credit
Contemporary-Art-Business: The New Orders of Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Busan, 2020

Museum of Contemporary Art Busan
1191, Nakdongnam-ro, Saha-gu, Busan, Korea
82 51 220 7400

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