Museum, Managers of Consciousness

The dichotomy of taste dictating the direction of the art industry is established and reinforced through museums. The prolific German writer Hans Magnus Enzensberge once proclaimed that the economy of the art world belonged to the “consciousness industry”.  Artist and art patron alike tend to shy away from the industrial undercurrent that runs beneath the romanticized illusion of the art world.  The notion of art as currency is a concept that cannibalizes itself, in that the aura of art diminishes with the realization that the industry is unlike any other- merely a compilation of financial transactions. In short, if art is perceived as a product its marketability is compromised. Thus, the operative and distributive modes of the industry must be veiled.  The role of museums are crucial insofar as they mediate worth and construct value.  Behind the scenes, these institutions are run more and more by business men rather than those knowledgeable about art. For instance, at the Metropolitan Museum o in New York, the current director has a background in management and finance- need I say more.

The business of art is an illusive one, as it deals namely with the intangible aura attached to a work of art.  Ultimately, the value of a piece is contingent on its’ relation to the collective consciousness of society at large. For instance, the Mona Lisa is deemed priceless due to its mass circulation amongst the social arena. Yet, the dichotomy of taste belongs to the hegemonic order.  Whereas certain artists are framed, celebrated and discussed, others with a more subversive aim know only neglect and marginalization.  Art is laced with ideological repercussions that indoctrinate and sway the social consciousness.  Given that a majority of the museums in the United States receive their funding from corporate donors, the policies and decisions of the instiution have been hijacked and manipulated by their private investor.  “Museums works in the vineyards of consciousness…And such an institution should be challenged if it refuses to acknowledge that it operates under constraints deriving from its sources of funding and from the authority to which it reports”.  With that said, the implications of corporate financing result in an artistic censorship.


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