The exhibition will run between 17 May – 29 September 2013
Curators: Monika Kozioł, Delfina Piekarska, Maria Anna Potocka
Co-ordinator: Jeanne Pagin
Artists: Banksy, Zanny Begg & Olivier Ressler, Joseph Beuys, Bernhard Blume, Liena Bondare, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Rafał Bujnowski, Christoph Büchel, Jose Maria Cano, Jota Castro, Josef Dabernig, Oskar Dawicki, Pola Dwurnik, Eva Grubinger, Andreas Gursky, Alfredo Jaar, Christian Jankowski, Toril Johannessen, Laura Kalauz & Martin Schick, Leopold Kessler, Olga Kisseleva, Robin Klassnik, Karolina Kowalska, Jarosław Kozłowski, Michael Landy, Hipolit Lipiński, Pavlo Makov, Antoni Muntadas, Lada Nakonechna, Dan Perjovschi, Santiago Sierra, Klaus Staeck, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor, Whielki Krasnal.
Economics in Art is the third in the series of exhibitions presented by MOCAK the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow to relate art to the most significant domains of civilisation such as history, sport, science, religion and art. To date, two exhibitions in the series have taken place: History in Art and Sport in Art.
The juxtaposition of economics and art is not self-explanatory. On one hand, there is a pragmatic discipline, cold and based on mathematics, on the other hand – the realm of unrestrained artistic imagination. However, the encounter of these two areas turns out to be fascinating. Economics has provided a source of inspiration for many contemporary artists, frequently provoking non-obvious artistic actions. Today, with the world is facing a global economic crisis, the voice of the artist has become particularly topical and noteworthy; the themes that artists take on board have become crucial in the discourse on civilisation.
The exhibition Economics in Art is a collection of works of a few dozen artists from Poland and other countries, who represent various techniques and media. The exhibition has been structured around a number of issues:
• Value. How is value created? What are the symbols of value? How can it be manipulated? In what way is it an artificial or contractual concept?
• The ethics of market activities and mechanisms. To what extent does economic success justify ethical compromise? Should the rich feel guilty?
• Humanist aspects of economics. How strong is the chain that links economic and social problems?
• Art’s dependence on market forces. What does the value of a work of art depend on? How do market games work? Why should the artist’s work have value? What does it mean to be an owner of art?
The exhibition is accompanied by ample Polish and English publications, reflecting on the most significant problematics resulting from the relationship between economics and art. The texts have been written by such authors as Edwin Bendyk, Jerzy Hausner and Georgina Adam, the Editor of The Art Newspaper and a Financial Times correspondent.
Art – in its idealistic effusions – resists being linked with economic mechanisms. It longs to be a creation of the soul, untainted by materialistic temptations. And it is in fact something like this. History clearly shows that those who put their personalities and minds into it are honored, and not those who empty their wallets. The prizes go to those who are concerned with art, and not profits. Yet these disinterested champions of the spirit are also producers; they manufacture beautiful and dazzling objects that lead observers into raptures and desire. Rare, ‘priceless’ things like to have a price. Art is harnessed to economic mechanisms. A game is played on the small pyramid of value.
A work of art lacks any kind of values, either ideological or market-related. Some random beholder, or even quite a large group, may of course be delighted with it, but such acceptance is no signal of value. This most frequently applies to objects that reinforce ‘homegrown’ habits of aesthetics or metaphor. Quite often, the art that arouses such reactions is shoddy and outdated. Only thoroughgoing interpretation endows a work with the ideological value and position – as embodied in exhibitions, collections, critical texts, and theoretical publications – initiated and played out by the artworld. The art market observes the Artworld stock prices that bestow commercial value on specific works. These two appraisals of the work of art – the first more noble because it changes the world and the second more cynical because it concerns profit and preys on vanity – construct the complex value of a work of art. They are only partly interdependent. The history of art considers the ideological value exclusively, and is capable of appreciating an artist with no market presence while rejecting a marketable artist who disdains the artworld.
Text by Maria Anna Potocka, Art in Economics (a part of the author’s text published in the exhibition catalogue)