Home » article » Cultural Conspiracy

Cultural Conspiracy

Edward Bernays

 “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country… It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

Edward L. Bernays


This operates in the Art World. We are conditioned to accept the normalization of the visual arts through deliberately designed conduits that are hardly ever of the artist’s making. How art is to be seen, is as important as the so-called art object itself. The social framework surrounding our engagement is as important as anything passing for art. Some art is marketed. Some art is community art or local entertainment or hobby. Some art is academic, to be housed in the confines of academic purpose and role. Some role of art is to remain published as journal that can substantiate or justifies the validity of settled art for the greater public so it can be seen as “real, tried and true” for the public domain.  The narratives are added and viola…  Art!… Some art is automatically museum bound, pre-purchased and created for a public role.  Or sits in storage containers outside airports, avoiding tax, to market a future transfer, languishing in very nice wooden boxes, made especially for its long, lonely wait.

But all these modes of presentation invariably necessitate a middle man to some degree, a social force that had little to do with the actual creation of the art but is invariably responsible for its presentation and to a large degree whether it is deemed “successful or good” or not.  The artist is held hostage on many levels. Artists themselves usually have the last say as to what or how their art is seen or not. Or to what it is. They pray for luck or some kind of power. They fight insanity, sometimes they lose the battle or just foist it off. Why are not artists enraged at this drubbing they take…. day in…..day out…. throughout history?

Or are artists the willing sign-makers for the social order of the dominating state in which they exist?? 

Al Jirikowic

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Caroline Daniels

Hi Al, The fact that one decides to become an artist and not a plumber, a gardener, a lawyer or a doctor for example, is due to the fact that most artists don’t fit, nor do they accept, the pre-formed mold that society expects of them. They are a less manipulative category of individuals, even though many do sell out in order to survive. Inside they remain independent creatures, somewhat uncomfortable for society to manage and live with. I disagree with you on your saying that artists have always accepted this “drubbing”, as you call it. They always remain different… Read more »

When artists sell out they are no longer independent creatures and have lost authenticity. Identity politics is the great issue of today. Race and gender have entered into the mainstream discussion with some urgency, art has not. I do not see much comfort in the fact that artists are oddballs and natural eccentrics.

Miklos Legrady

The homogeneity of academia, arrived at through online networking, drives the policing of artistic thought. It would not do to disagree with one’s Dean; most artists teach, the competition is intense, so gatekeepers deny work or ideas that subvert their position and income. As a result, the New Art Examiner is a breath of fresh air.

Academia has degenerated into a self-serving self-promoting mutual admiration club. Of course, there are exceptions, not many..Fear is Dominant. Adjunct Faculty are treated with little or no respect. The New Art Examiner may be a fresh air (thank you, Miklos) The New Art Examiner has made a significant contribution without the interest or support from Academia. Power plays are a universal theme, cloaked under the delusion of institutional creativity and excellence.

Al Jirikowic

For the average person… where is one to learn how to paint ???…academia is what the artist rebels against… so it has a reaction value of rebellion or launch point or as Derek implies, it sucks the student in or more often than not.. it neutralizes the young artist into a demoralizing attitude… The academy I propose is an anti-academy… a school that is self conscious of the pitfalls of an emerging artist… is it possible????

The decision of today’s academia that Avant Garde can be taught is a delusion. Certainly, the process is a money-spinner as students pay hefty fees with the silly idea that a degree awards them the status of being an ARTIST. Craft techniques can be taught as a required methodology. Good taste can be acquired or developed as the stunning and profound exhibition of Verrochio at the National Gallery demonstrates that in the Renaissance the time of a shared symbolic order, quality objects can be manufactured. Art today, modern and postmodern, is a free for all, organised by celebrity culture, which… Read more »

John Link

Derek, By “Avant Garde” you must mean emerging art that is really art. Academia certainly teachs what it considers “Avant Garde”, which it understands as the art everybody who is somebody is doing, a lot of which would not strike anyone as art unless it is labelled and/or shown in a venue that appears to function as a validator of art. Contemporary art is what it actually is. Of course, no venue can validate art. Their attempts are empty gestures, for the most part anyway. Instead, art validates itself when it is good enough. The best academics work by pointing… Read more »