Art is the safest investment, they say, so when the bottom has fallen out of the economy, trade

in art will perversely increase. The sale of Damian Hurst’s stuffed shark for eight and a half million, during the credit crunch when the government cannot even help struggling people to heat their homes, says – “fuck you lot, fuck the poor – you have no life anyway, miserable minnows, you’re all beneath me because I have the balls and I have the power and I can do this.” Penises in urinals. And of course, people like Hurst laugh all the way to the bank and are deluded into thinking their work is genius by virtue of the figures they can demand. So, Hurst’s work is far more successful than some unknown painting that lies in some drawer or dark cellar. This is what art has become. If you’re not business-minded you cannot possibly be a legitimate artist, nowadays, the Arts Council bulletins read. Don’t get me wrong, art is priceless; our world is richer for it and it is potent for influencing our perceptions. You cannot buy the creative process, (although Hurst does). I appreciate the value in preserving even modern history and rarities. But no art is actually that esoteric, that elitist in nature that it deserves that value, as rare or historic as it might be. So, you get into an argument then about how much art should fetch – is it worth more than the most expensive mansion or a jumbo jet? Are two Titians worth more to the country than the cost of making two Hollywood blockbusters, or a fifth of the 2012 Olympic admin bill? Of course they are and some people will campaign vigorously for it. And how many lives could that money save? Well, you can’t think that way. There’s no return in that. The problem lies not in what value we give it, but that we do so in monetary terms as if money ever had anything to do with the value of art. You don’t need to be an artist to know that. I wonder what treasure still lies buried in some Nazi hidden vault or sodden trench. I wonder how many lives it would buy now, in comparison with how many it cost to acquire. How much money was fed back into the German war effort from the art they confiscated and who bought it? Did it buy any lives and how many did it sell? What price obscenity? What indeed, is the threshold for obscenity? Obscenity is by definition outrageously exorbitant, its value enhanced when it costs human lives. We’re back to what constitutes real strength and weakness. There is a place for art at all levels but there is an equally insidious disease infiltrating art and media, that threatens to undermine our values in life and value of life, apart from the devaluing of it commercially. It is all subjective and there is a great diversity of art at all levels in this country, but I maintain that most crafted and natural artists will subscribe to the view that the prevalence of mediocrity in art and the running of the arts contributes to a general watering down of critical social awareness and quality. Art that doesn’t encourage out-of-the-box thinking, but concentrates on the box itself. Partly to blame is the process of turning art into business, to the point where the business becomes the object. There’s nothing wrong with selling art as a business. Warhol and Emin used art to balk against snobbery in art, only to end up snobs. It makes no difference if it’s a rough sketch or a cast bird on a pole that anyone could have done; it doesn’t have to have any identifiable characteristics of the artist’s hand; as long as it’s got their name on it, its worth will be exaggerated. (See the chapter – ‘Art for arse-ache’). I’m not against Emin or Warhol; I’m all for a widely varied and stimulating world with some natural inequality. But elitism, in any form, is delusional. Anyone could have done what Warhol or Emin did… but they didn’t. (Actually, someone probably did). That’s fine. Other people will always make more money with art, doing nothing, than the artist did in making it. You know there are people who will cast your penis in bronze for you? What I’d like to do is get a hundred made and plant them on some beach. Thank fuck Banksy doesn’t work primarily for commission, but one of his walls just tripled a house’s market value. I have a far more controversial, provocative installation that would illustrate the commercial, Kings Clothes aspect of art, if the Tate was interested. One every artist would equally despise and envy. One that would become the most renown piece of art ever. One that would outrage everyone with its audacity. It is especially designed for the Turner and would only work as the prime exhibit at Tate Modern. You’ll have to take my word for that. But every person has some form or appreciation of art in them. All expressions of art are universal in that way. Art can be uninhibited and transcend all human boundaries, so, why do we

have this awareness and appreciation for art, but not for life? If art is worth more when it keeps up with the Dow Joneses and art mirrors life, just as the virtual market is a fictional as the price mounted upon art, but it dictates the real market, thus our real lives are held hostage to keeping up. So, whatever we do, our priority has to be, ignore real life and prop up the flailing market confidence, hoist an artificial value on it and keep an eye on the trends we’re told via the media and bold headliners. ___