The party has started at Art Basel Miami Beach, and many people I know will glean off the decadence of the members of ruling class that the festival caters to. I have little judgement towards them, many of them spending their time opening crates and hanging work.
I want there to be some clarity for the duration of the weekend. And I want everyone to be honest about the intentions behind Art Basel-Miami Beach. The originating event, in Basel, Switzerland displayed an estimated $1.75 Billion worth of artwork last July. Miami Beach is allegedly almost twice as much, $2.5 Billion.
Robert Hughes describes Art as the second largest unregulated market in the world, with Drugs being first, while banking, technically, is regulated. Consumers at Art Basel will invest the wealth they have accumulated in the rare commodities on offer and these will appreciate over time. It is more secure than gold and much more legal than the shady business leading to the 2007 economic collapse.
To the buyer, it isn’t important what the commodity originally meant to its producer, nor its historical context. The reason why it’s being bought, and sold, is because it’s rare and a “good investment”. Does Michael Douglas really give a shit about Pablo Picasso’s anti-fascist leanings, or is he thinking that an $8 million oil on canvas is a safer bet than the constantly fluctuating value of paper currency? If he’s clever he will perform acts of “charity”, like Ronald S. Lauder, and eventually make the tax sheltered collection available to the public (at $15 a ticket-Neue Galerie).
This festival is about putting all the stolen wealth into a secure place. Not for society but for a bunch of smug bandits and their glamorous well-known jesters. I can only pray that Occupy Wall St, and all the other Occupations, will mature quickly and confront the financialization of creativity.