But it’s Clean if it’s Taken by Force
December 07, 2010
Anna steers us to this.
The Guardian’s caption reads, “A demonstrator holds her arms up during a protest at the Tate Britain.” Though readers may wish to devise captions of their own. For those who missed yesterday’s, um, spectacle, art students “invaded” Tate Britain and organised a series of life drawing classes to protest against proposed cuts to arts budgets:
Supporters of the protest handed out leaflets outside the building warning that higher fees could lead to empty art schools.
A Guardian reader adds,
A brilliant, well executed and peaceful protest from students who are angry at the blatant betrayal and abandonment of the arts.
Yes, trembling readers, artists are angry.
As angry as they were five months ago when protesting against BP’s sponsorship of the arts, estimated at around half a million pounds:
BP’s money is tainted and it is hard to see how the company’s reputation won’t have a long-term impact on those who accept it.
That was dirty money, see? Given voluntarily, unlike taxpayer subsidy, but still, dirty, dirty, dirty. Among those protesting at this insult to moral hygiene was John Jordan, an “artist and activist” and co-editor of We Are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global Anticapitalism, an anarchist guidebook to “direct action” and a “collision of subjectivities… charged with inspiration.”
In his Guardian column, Mr Jordan wrote,
Art acts as a great detergent, and being involved with a gallery enables the company to host glitzy events at which it can foster vital relationships with ministers, journalists and foreign dignitaries…
The fiends. Just as being involved with a gallery enables anti-capitalist poseurs a chance to sound important and foster vital relationships with taxpayers’ money.
Corporate sponsorship creates an insidious climate of self-censorship that keeps art trapped in the disease of representation: a tool for preserving the status quo rather than showing us how to live differently.
Clearly, recidivist anti-capitalists showing us how to live deserve better than this. They deserve more public subsidy. It’s vital work. Art institutions must not take donations from companies of which some artists may disapprove. That would be wicked, insidious and a cause of artistic disease. Instead, those institutions should encourage the state to take money from the taxpayer, forcibly, and give it to artists and projects of which the taxpayer may disapprove. That would be virtuous and clean, apparently.