Manifest IV of the Sociological Art: Art and Economy (1977)

by Hervé Fischer, Fred Forest, Jean-Paul Thénot
February 1977

Art is a complex merchandise. Its market in the industrialized countries is organized to several levels: speculation of the elite on unique pieces or to limited print, massive diffusion of reproductions (disks, post cards, copies…), packing or conditioning of commodities of consumption (food, house…). This market secreted a network of modern and varied information, and an efficient institutional system (galleries, museums, centers of art and of culture…). World capital of finance and economy, New York detains on this market an imperial power and exports its local culture at the same time as its dollars.

1. The market of art. Banks, Stock-exchanges, bids, assurances, industry, galleries made of the “supplement of soul” of our civilization a commercial activity to high output, very comparable to all other, with a supplementary function indeed, the one to legitimize spiritually our industrial and commercial society and the class that dominates there. The art recovers there its traditional affirmative power.

The collective sociological of art refuses a society where the art is money and where money is divine. By his interrogative and critical practice, at the opposite of the art merchandise and the culture of consumption, it questions the social conscience.

2. The communication. Confronted to the mercantile and official network of the art (magazines of art financed by directors of galleries, controlled by representatives of the State, published by captains of industry), the collective sociological of art poses the problem of the communication. He must invent marginally his own network of information, against the economic and political powers.

3. The institutions of the market. Opposite the galleries, museums and of the monumental symbol that reigns henceforth on this system in Paris – the Center of Art and of Culture Georges Pompidou – the collective of sociological art must invent a strategy of diversion. He must create his counter-institutions, such the Interrogative Sociological School, to oppose the conscience to the consumption.

4. New York. To the United States also, the cultural regionalism of New York holds the language and the power of the universality. The too near Canada undergoes the yoke, can’t discover its own cultural identity even. Everything that comes from New York is god on the market of the art. The galleries installed their head office at Broadway. They test their products in their European branches, before possible investment on the North American market. Spellbound by New York, the European artists, of United-States and from Japan make the art of imitation to be in the spiral of the before-war. The Centre Pompidou to reach the international statute believes necessary to announce at its opening an exhibition New York/Paris. Unconscious of the economic character of their power, the “stars” of New York ignores superbly the ideas that live elsewhere – to their eyes a way of third hulls cultural.

Yet the crisis reached the imperial capital, and while the prudent merchants welcome temporarily some foreign artists and galleries, the time to pass a crisis they want brief, we throw a third front out New York capable to organize a strategy out of the international market and to invent variously our consciences and our identities, without depending of the windows of bank of New-York.

The market of the art, its system of information and of diffusion, its institutions the Centre Pompidou, the New Yorker imperialism exist. They are there. As characteristic products of our bargain society and of consumption The collective of sociological art hasn’t the power to suppress them. Therefore, his strategy will be to divert them, so that the art is not the sublime expression and the supplement of soul of the economic, political and military power…, but the interrogative conscience of all.

The collective of sociological art,

Hervé FISCHER, Fred FOREST, Jean-Paul THÉNOT, Paris, February 1977

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