How do the wealthy as a governing class continue to maintain and enhance their social and political legitimacy through this economic and culture crisis? One strategy: asserting the language and belief in individual merit, personal worth, and autonomy from collective determination, the ruling elite position themselves on the side of the just. Yet exactly this configuration of claims is no less the central to the critical tenets of contemporary art. Mobilized through an appreciation and support of contemporary art, wealth power is then not only justified because it supports a social good (art in its politically progressive claims) but is moreover itself just according to the values heralded in contemporary art and its generic claims. Equally, the celebration of art (and the art system) is a celebration of the progressiveness of the ruling elites. Contemporary art is not in a forced marriage with the ruling elites and perhaps not even one of mutual convenience, but one of true mutual love (of art).
Suhail Malik is Programme Leader (Critical Studies) for the MFA Fine Art, Goldsmiths, London, and writes most often on political economies (including that of contemporary art) and their theoretical and material conditions.
About The Speakers Series: Each semester the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College hosts a regular program of lectures by the foremost artists, curators, art historians, and critics of our day, situating the school and museum’s concerns within the larger context of contemporary art production and discourse. Lectures are open to students and faculty, as well as to the general public, and will also be documented through video and/or audio recordings, which will reside in the CCS Bard Library and Archives.