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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Dark Matter by Gregory Sholette. Art is big business, with some artists able to command huge sums of money for their works, while the vast majority are ignored or dismissed by critics.
This book shows that these marginalised artists, the 'dark matter' of the art world, are essential to the survival of the mainstream and that they frequently organize in opposition to it. Gregory Sholette, a politically enga Art is big business, with some artists able to command huge sums of money for their works, while the vast majority are ignored or dismissed by critics.
Gregory Sholette, a politically engaged artist, argues that imagination and creativity in the art world originate thrive in the non-commercial sector shut off from prestigious galleries and champagne receptions. This broader creative culture feeds the mainstream with new forms and styles that can be commodified and used to sustain the few artists admitted into the elite.
This dependency, and the advent of inexpensive communication, audio and video technology, has allowed this 'dark matter' of the alternative art world to increasingly subvert the mainstream and intervene politically as both new and old forms of non-capitalist, public art.
This book is essential for anyone interested in interventionist art, collectivism, and the political economy of the art world. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 5th by Pluto Press first published December 15th More Details Other Editions 4.
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Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Feb 27, Malcolm rated it really liked it Shelves: marxism-and-the-left. In this excellent book Greg Sholette develops that analysis further by demanding that we look at immaterial labour in more sophisticated ways.
To clarify the argument he takes one further step and focuses on those who consciously and intentionally place themselves in the space of dark matter.
These omissions are not a weakness of the text, and the groups selected allow Scholette to explore a range of important and underexplored issues in the political economy art in particular and cultural and immaterial labour more generally.
This is where the book became more useful for me, not as analysis of the artistic sector but in its exploration of the politics and practices of immaterial labour in cultural work. In a sense then there is less dark matter in the economic sector I work on, in part because the obesity moral panic has increased the profile of quotidian sport and exercise participation so our equivalent of folk and hobby artists is well seen even if it is to lament that there are not enough of them.
I am not arguing these sectors are the same, but there are essential labour process parallels that we must explore — as there is with the fashion industry. Amid all this, Scholette has a light touch and explores complex and demanding issues in an accessible way with a commendable avoidance of the dense often impenetrable language and exclusionary jargon as well as the tendentiousness that can often mar this area of work.
The issues he explores are essential for better understandings of changing character of labour in the contemporary neo-liberal world and its pervasive enterprise culture; all the more so as immaterial labour grows in profile and become increasingly important policy makers at local, regional, national and supra-national levels. It would be a shame if the readership was limited and did not include policy makers and those of us in and around other sectors of the cultural industries.
In short, there is an awful lot in this rich engaging text that deserves a wide academic and critical readership. Dec 06, Shaun rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: artist types, folks with half-baked "anti-art" sentiments.
Sholette provides an invigorating if not occasionally dense investigation into collective and collaborative creative practice in the primarily American "Left". Focusing on artists and work from the last thirty years which intelligently and actively seek alternatives to the entrenched "Art World" and "citadel culture", Sholette pinpoints useful critiques and operating points for artists currently grappling with the challenge of working critically from a radical political perspective.
There's Sholette provides an invigorating if not occasionally dense investigation into collective and collaborative creative practice in the primarily American "Left".
There's also quit a bit in here about the lived reality of many who identify themselves as artists in the present American economy, with interesting points which many feel but rarely articulate with any value in regards to the majority's relationship to the small percentage of artists who achieve "success" or Art World merit in the generally accepted way.
From details on the reality of job prospects post-MFA to the actual relationship most art school grads have to making a living often doing work which supports the Art World structure itself through museum and artist's-assistant jobs , this book has a lot to say that the predictable, knee-jerk anti-art perspectives I'm used to skimming can rarely speak to in depth.
Other than the feeling that some of the book's examples draw too heavily on projects Sholette was a part of, my other main complaint is that the book will occupy too many academic shelves and not be read by enough people outside the academy who could use the missive just as much if not more.
Vocabulary word I learned: Precariat - combination of the words "precarious" and "proletariat", referring to a class of workers who experience little to no job security or control over labor, lacking consistent living wage or certainty of employment, typically holding multiple dead-end part-time jobs at one time to make ends meet [there's nothing new about that first part, but it's the later that feels more contemporary or, at least, sounds a lot like most of the people I know].
I ended up devouring this book and finding a lot of inspiration within it - admittedly my review rings really shallow given the depth of the concepts Sholette digs into!
I had been quietly suffering through a couple years of creative "low" when I read this book, and the suggestions and examples the author provides hit very close to home in a welcome way. Nov 06, C. Fewston rated it liked it. High art light matter is viewed as all art that is nationalized and well-known. Low art dark matter is considered all art that is out there but relatively unknown by the general public but known on a much smaller scale. In the United States there is a crises happening not only on the streets with police brutality but also in universities with the slashing of tenured jobs and the hiring of part-time professors.
When that day comes, Americans will wake up with eyes no longer disillusioned by their own greatness. The fact remains. Digital technology also functions like a prosthetic memory permitting the excluded to document and narrate ephemeral, every day activities and overlooked forms of expression or resistance. And it is this very common denominator among the persecuted citizens that empower them to stand as one.
I believe the world needs art now more than ever. But it seems the elite and the precocious few fueled by greed think otherwise. How can one place such a value on art? On education? On humanity? Who is to sit back and judge intrinsic worth by placing a monetary figure on it?
Unfortunately this kind of narrow mindedness penetrates all walks of life in America. From fast food chains profiting billions, avoiding taxes, paying workers unlivable wages to publishers motivated more by profit rather than enhancing art to empower and enrich society the issue is profoundly evident to me: money is the sole logic behind why choices are being made, and this is no way to live or to evolve the human race.
And the human race is evolving, waking up, taking to the streets now more than ever. The police are there to protect the wealthy and not to protect basic human rights. And this is the crises we see happening between high culture and low culture, and it certainly reflects in the choices produced in art. Critical is derived, of course, from crises. And despite this book being three years old, the tensions unfolding throughout the United States, and the rest of the world like it is in Hong Kong, are clear.
The human race is witnessing a turning point, a splintering if you will, of its own moral and spiritual evolution. And much of this can be seen through art and the treatment of both amateurs and professionals.
Or if they found an alternative to it by creating a Peer-to-Peer P2P network of support and direct sales bypassing art dealers, critics, galleries, and curators? Indeed, to some degree this has already begun to take shape via media applications of Web 2. The elite have lost their most prized luxury: anonymity. With anonymity comes distance, safety, invisibility and control and, thereby, the increase of power. This power ranges from the most mundane issues like employee morale to the issues of wages, brutality, excessive force, and this power even reaches into the hearts and minds of the citizens through art.
The aim of this book is to raise an inevitable question: what if we turned this figure and ground relation inside out by imagining an art world unable to exclude the practices and practitioners it secretly depends upon? What then would become of its value structure and distribution power? And the American people are getting fed up with a tipped scale that is constantly in favor of the ones with their finger immorally balancing the odds against the actual majority, the low culture represented in dark matter.
Here at this Site a reader who wants to know more about a book can do so without the political-and-media-trappings that often go into paid-by-the-publisher critical reviews. If high culture, as Tolstoy considered it, continued to be in control of Art and its future development, then society would ultimately suffer.
Dark Matter by Gregory Sholette is an enlightening read that has interconnected art in its varying forms through society and its ever changing patterns in the distribution of power, the wealth of the people and the economy, and the fundamental belief in the pursuit of happiness. Although this book is a dry, slow page turning text created in the trenches of academia, the world is certainly better for it having been published. A good recommend. Keep reading and smiling… Mar 30, Katya Zabelski rated it really liked it.
Apr 18, Stefan Szczelkun rated it it was amazing. This is really a diary or compilation of his efforts, thoughts and various involvements, and I think I had hoped for his own subjective engagements to be more explicit and less academicised. The reason for this focus on a very particular stratum of dark matter would then be more organic and less arbitrary. A global study of dark matter would take the kind of team effort and resources that go into compiling a major dictionary or encyclopaedia.
The key question may be how any such institution could maintain its revolutionary integrity whilst carrying out such a task.
From an Imaginary Interview with Gregory Sholette
As early as art historian Carol Duncan pinpointed a fundamental, though typically overlooked feature of high culture: that the majority of professionally trained artists make up a vast surplus whose redundancy is the normal condition of the art market. More than twenty years later, a policy study by the California-based Rand Corporation reinforced and updated these observations describing an even more unsettling picture of the art world. One of the key questions addressed in my book Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise is not only what this glut of creativity consists of, but what function does it have in relation to the art world establishment? Is this less visible, other art world a kind of noise over which the bright articulate signal of success and value is superimposed? Or is there yet a deeper complicity between noise and signal? To answer these questions I appropriated a concept from theoretical astrophysicists who inform us that as much as ninety-five percent of the visible universe is allegedly made up of an unknown, unseen form of matter and energy.
Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture
Due to scheduling restrictions, a real-time one-on-one interview was not possible. The questions in the following text are mostly retrospectively inspired by his informative response with my edits and his consent , which includes references to some of his published works. Does occupying one space preclude occupying the other? Gregory Sholette GS : I think it is important to clarify a couple of questions about my concepts that you might have misunderstood because my dark matter thesis does not propose a simple opposition between centre and periphery. In brief, artistic dark matter refers to the marginalised and systematically underdeveloped aggregate of creative productivity that nonetheless reproduces the material and symbolic economy of high art. Think of the way the majority of art school graduates will, ten years or less after graduating, find themselves working as exhibition installers or art fabricators, rather than living off the sales of their own art.