FOTAM 2020: Redefining Value in the Art Market
Event 4: Redistributing Power | The Art Market is Structured Like a Plantation
Co-convener: Helen Starr
Speakers: Helen Starr, Cultural Activist, Producer, Curator ; ruangrupa, Indonesian Collective ; Louise Fedotov Clements, QUAD, FORMAT International Photography Festival ; Sumuyya Khader, Artist and founder of Granby Press
But 'tis a lovely sight to see a hundred handsome Negroes, men and women, with every one a grasse-green bunch of these fruits on their heads, every bunch twice as big as their heads, all coming in a train one after another, the black and green so well becoming one another.
A True and Exact History of The ILand of Barbadoes, Richard Lignon (1657)
In the midst of Covid-19 turmoil, Black Lives Matter protests have brought into sharp focus the imperial visuality of the mainstream artworld; art’s entanglement with the extractive power of privilege and status allows only a select few to reap the benefits of this predominantly white, subjective, plantation-like system.
For this event, Afro-Carib art producer Helen Starr positions the contemporary art market in relation to plantation economics, drawing comparison between the cultural economy that contemporary art now inhabits and the alienating, extractive logic of the colonial plantation system. The current culture system harvests artworks from the fields of exotic ideas, which are processed by well spoken gatekeepers and sold across the world. White washed and picked clean, this plantation art fits perfectly onto white walls. Art which is too radical, too different, too BIPOC, too trans, too female, too queer or crippled is left behind like refuse.
Refused art and Refused cultural workers transform refuse into Refusal politics. To refuse to sit and eat at the plantation table becomes a radical act of system transformation. Fugitive artworkers form fugitive communities which share wealth across geo-political borders. And discarded detritus once refused becomes magic in the hands of those who create for themselves and for people othered like them.
How can value in the art market be reconfigured beyond the plantation? What do fugitive art economies look like?
Together, through the lens of plantation and fugitive economics, we will contemplate the critical implications these economies have on the artworld and its institutions, shining a light on cultural workers who are spearheading the shift beyond this dominant model.
This event will take place via Zoom. A link to join the event will be sent to you shortly.
About Helen Starr
Helen Starr is an Afro-Carib cultural activist, producer and curator. She is also the co-founder of Daad Futurism.
About FOTAM 2020
FOTAM 2020: Redefining Value In The Art Market is a series of events and interactive discussions taking place online from 19 - 30 October 2020
FOTAM 2020 is produced by Creative United and curated by Lucy Rose Sollitt, with support from Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and UCL Innovation & Enterprise.