Art Power

Boris Guys, Art Power (MIT Press: 2008)

“Art becomes politically effective only when it is made outside the art market — in the context of direct political propaganda.” [7]

“Of course, one can easily argue that such propaganda art is simply political design- and image-making….They are making advertisements for a certain ideological goal — and they subordinate their art to this goal. Bt what is, actually, this goal itself? Every ideology is based on a “vision,” on a certain image of he future — be it an image of paradise, Communist society, or permanent revolution. And this is what signals the fundamental difference between market commodities and political propaganda. The market operates by an “invisible hand,” it is merely a dark suspicion; it circulates images, but does not have its own image. By contrast, the power of an ideology is always ultimately the power of a vision. And this means that by serving any political or religious ideology an artist ultimately serves art. That is why an artist can also challenge a regime based on an ideological vision in a much more effective way than he or she can challenge the art market. An artist operates on the same territory as ideology.” [7,8 emphasis mine]

“At the same time, the artwork remains under the ideological regime a paradox-object. That is, every ideological vision is only a promised image — an image of what is to come….Thus all ideologically motivated art necessarily breaks with this politics of deferral, because art is always made here and now.” [8]