I wrote the below in response to this entry. However, the comment button is not working. I am going to write the blog owners to see if they accept comments… In the mean time, I’ll post it here.
I agree that a public equation of the terms ‘artist’ and ‘entrepreneur’ is not always helpful one to nurture. Artist as “problem solver” has its own difficulties as well. For an artist to consider the useful aspects of these terms for themselves and their livelihood is one thing, but when these traits are presupposed as components of the artistic persona, from the outside they become problematic. This becomes especially evident when institutions begin to view artists (especially young and unknown ones) as creative thinkers whose are willing to do free work in exchange for resume building. Groups like WAGE are doing important work by bringing issues like this to the forefront.
But beyond demanding certain rights for artists, this post reflects a general insecurity about how we define the role of an artist today. It feels especially relevant when artists are increasingly interested in what appears to be non-art, or in doing projects where locating the art is inherently difficult. By moving out of a traditional viewing context like a gallery, the question of malleability enters the conversation. A project must be able to bend to suit its environment, but how much can it do so without losing its artistic core? I think this is one reason some critics argue for an antagonistic element in art that attempts to make its home in the world– something that can help shelter it from assimilation by the rest of the (capitalist) world.
At the same time I do feel that it is important to be able to embrace alternate social roles– like the entrepreneur– as a creative choice. Artists should not be left out of the conversation on how to make value in the world, even if the rest of the world defines value in terms of capital. Warhol said, “Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art.” I hope that we can continue to see this as a statement from an artist, not a societal decree.