In his article “Museums: Managers of Consciousness”, Haacke describes how museums are increasingly shifting their model of operation to. They are, if you want to put it in positive terms, great educational institutions. If you want to put it in negati ” – Hans Haacke quotes from Haacke H.’Museums, managers of consciousness’ B. Wallis (Ed.), Hans Haacke: unfinished business, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York and MIT.
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It follows that political considerations play a role in the appointment of museum directors. Aside from the reasons already mention, the discomfort in applying industrial nomenclature to works of art may also have to do with the fact that these products are not entirely physical in nature. It is the board member and conscousness executives with business backgrounds that have the ultimate say in what gets shown and what gets dismissed. The art world as a whole, and museums in particular, belong to what has aptly been called the “consciousness industry.
The lack of alternative voices communicated through the exhibitions as well as the lack of awareness among audiences about corporate sponsorship provides evidence that the consciousness being produced by museums can be easily influenced by its sponsors and distributed to a consumer audience.
Rather than sponsoring intelligent, critical awareness, museums thus tend to foster appeasement. To state that obvious fact, however, is not an accusation of devious conduct. Like Enzensberger, I believe the use of the term “industry” for the entire range of activities of those who are employed or working on a freelance basis in the art field has a salutary effect.
Traditionally, however, the old-timers are shy in admitting to themselves and others the industrial character of their activities and most still do not view themselves as managers. In accepting public grants, however, they became accountable-even if in practice only to a limited degree-to government agencies.
Whether museums contend with governments, power-trips of individuals, or the corporate steamroller, they are in the business of molding and channeling consciousness.
Irrespective of their own love for or indifference towards art, they recognized that a company’s association with art could yield benefits far out of proportion to a specific financial investment. What the emergence of arts administration departments in business schools demonstrates, however, is the fact that in spite of the mystique surrounding the production and distribution of art, we are now-and indeed have been all along-dealing with social organizations that follow industrial modes of operation, ranging in size from the cottage industry to national and multinational conglomerates.
How far the Saatchis in London will get in dominating the Tate Gallery’s Patrons of New Art-and thereby the museum’s policies for contemporary art-is currently watched with the same fascination and nervousness as developments in the Kremlin.
One of the most spectacular recent examples has been the de facto takeover of museums among others, museums in Cologne, Vienna, and Aachen that received or believed they would receive gifts from the German collector Peter Ludwig. They do not blush in assessing the receptivity and potential development of an audience for their product. You have the start manqgers an inside view of the challenges museum professional face when dealing with these macro cultural and institutional problems.
You need theory that is heuristic, museu,s to open up new discoveries. That doctrine has an avant-garde historical veneer and in its time did perform a liberating role.
Many individual donors could no longer contribute at the accustomed rate, and inflation eroded the purchasing power of funds. They have understood, sometimes better than the people who work in the leisure suits of culture, that the term “culture” camouflages the social and political consequences resulting from the industrial distribution of consciousness.
The resulting box-office pressure made the museums still more dependent on corporate funding. Haacke believes this could turn problematic mqnagers artists and the arts in general.
Managers of Consciousness, Hans Haacke, Why are biotech companies suddenly sponsoring art about genes? With so many variables, there is ample room for exegesis and a consciousnese is thus guaranteed for many workers in the consciousness industry. It is contingent, a battleground of conflicting interests. Some of the more successful artists employ their own business managers.
Conversations of Theory
It seems worthwhile here to extrapolate from and to expand upon Enzensberger’s thoughts for a discussion of the role museums and other art-exhibiting institutions play. During the restive Sixties the more astute ones began to understand that corporate involvement in the haackf is too important to be left to the chairman’s wife. This is a really good survey of issues, problems, and questions. Nor are we dealing with a universally accepted body of knowledge or beliefs.
Staying within the acceptable range of divergent views must be perceived as the natural thing to do. Through my analysis of the artworks on display, I found very little to challenge the dominant ideologies surrounding race, gender roles, and the objectification of women; there were hardly any racial minority figures displayed, men were portrayed as wise and knowledgeable in business, and women were shown as sexual objects nude, red lipstick, mouths open.
By funding the arts, corporations bring notoriety to their business, they use it as a way of marketing and bringing their name to the public at large, as well as large tax relief in which tax payers become the grunt of corporate profit.
As for art dealers, it goes without saying that they are engaged in running businesses. At that point, art works are no longer a musejms affair. It has established branches-almost literally a merger-on the premises of two companies.