It is possible to conceive art, just like science, as a way of production. And of course, it is also possible to conceive as a way of production the kind of effort or activity that have been devoted to the study the branch of economy known as the "theory of production". Nevertheless, there is a key difference between the productive activity of a screw factory and, for example, Einstein's productive activity. While the business of the screw fabricator is basically devoted to earn money through selling his screws, Einstein was consecrated to elucidating certain physical truths. The criteria validating the business success is the benefit, and thus, in a market economy, the way in which it has been possible to satisfy this or that necessity of society through competitive prices. The criteria validating the scientific success is not the response of the market, it is the corporative consensus.
And to what is closer art as a way of production? science of the srew company? In this conference I will argue that both models include a non-negligible analog value; that the art oriented towards the market does not necessarily mean the production of low quality articles; that the presence of the market in the contemporary world is much more tenuous than what is normally considered; and that the confusion of ideas and the pathologies leading to the exploitation of public funds, are much more hurtful for art than the market. I will briefly speak about the strategies of the artistic world to accumulate incomes, or as it is equally said, of the art system.
The concept of museum has such a central role in our way of understanding culture, that we tend to forget that these institutions are not only relatively recent, but also a quite complex historical object, which is much more fragile than what their current public presence and symbolic value would imply.
One of the most common topics, represents museums as an oasis of beauty and knowledge, restrained by history and covered from politics; like a place of eternity where only objects of fixed value are preserved. But this is far from the truth. Few institutions are so permeable to the convulsions of their time. The two dates between which the historical cycle that we will address here spans are 1789 and 1960, the dates of birth and of final crisis of a historical museum model, which is also closely connected to the construction of modernity.
This model was born and died in between barricades, in the middle of violent episodes of our contemporary history: The first year refers to the beginning of the adventure with which Europe, as Tocquenville expressed, divides in two its future, creating an abyss between what Europe had been until then and what it wants to be from there on. In this "Year Zero" of novel political ideas, the concept of a public museum symbolically represents this historical conscience of breaking up with the past and attempting to achieve an utopian future of respect for memory, social equality, and civic education. The second date, one hundred and eighty years later, inaugurates the decade of the 60's where a vigorous wave of contra-cultural reply will invalidate, also from the barricades, the structures of power dominating art, attacking this way the historical legitimacy of museums and their right to exist, due to being perceived by the eyes of that generation as decadent and dogmatic anachronisms, towers of ivory accomplices of the bourgeois aesthetic values and the commercialism of art.
But it is in the period in between these two dates, basically all of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, when the museum was consolidated as the most genuine institution of its time. Walter Benjamin in his work Das Passagen-Werk explained that if the cathedral is the most representative building of the Middle Ages, and the palace of a 17th century dominated by absolutism, the most representative building of the 19th century -a century obsessed with history, with the cult to past and ruins- is the museum, which following a model established by the Enlightenment was consecrated as a place of formidable intellectual power. The Enlightenment's view of history and the creation of the historical sciences, will endorse the construction of the museum as one of the big myths of modern rationality, and its implementation as a model of ideal knowledge, as a space for demonstration and absolute truth, for consolidating values and fixing the imagination of authenticity. An institution introducing itself as the guarantee of scientific and scholarly production of its time.
The growing universal expansion of technology has changed the customs and traditional ways of life all across the planet. The art, all arts as a whole, have experimented this phenomenon since the beginning of the 20th century until today in a quite intensive way. In this territory, the most relevant effect of the expansion of technology has been the constitution of a continuos universe of representation in which the pragmatic and communicative dimension, with great aesthetic potential, determine and condition the art universe.
In the conference we will analyze and set the philosophical basis of the process, proposing art's lines of transformation and continuity. This way, we try to open for consideration the most advances artistic manifestations of today, with the idea that their dialectic with the present time has configured already the central traits of the art of the future, the art that will come.