art 2001/2
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Vytautas Pakalnis. Fragile
II tarptautinis popieriaus meno simpoziumas „Pop.menas’02. Papiruso misterijos“. Popierius, 200 x 500 x 166. 2001


An Artwork as Documentation of an Artist’s Self-Consciousness

by Jonas Valatkevičius

Problem 1. Is an artist a profession? It is obvious that today an artist less and less needs academic education. An artist’s technical skills increasingly depend on their concrete use. Their demand is determined by the environment, in which a concrete idea can be put into life in the most efficient way. The second important circumstance is the disappearance of subjective originality. Practically there is no difference between the work of a professional programmer and an academic painter, if the artist who lacks these skills needs them to realize his idea.
Problem 2. Is the art market an economic concept? The circle, in which an artwork as a commodity is turning, is eternal and stable. Today the inability to sell one’s work to the state/institution/collector is not considered an advantage. An artist practically loses a possibility to legitimise his activity, if he does not succeed in placing his production in the existing art market. Today an artist is forced to engage himself not only in producing an artwork, but also in spreading it: he must know how to present the idea of his work and have some skills of filling in various forms to apply for funding, he must also have some knowledge of PR and the principles of work with possible sponsors. It is not enough for an artist to wait till society notices him. Quite often an artist can secure himself a position on the art market.
Problem 3. Is self-consciousness an urgent concept in the market conditions? We should reconcile ourselves with a conclusion that self-consciousness is a concept not important for an artist. Self-consciousness is a mere technical term relevant to an artist’s career rather than to those who appreciate his works. Self-consciousness should be understood as a rational explanation of the situation mentioned above in order to take correct actions enabling the artist to become a recognized participant of the art market, and his works – a valuable commodity.
Conclusions. Future prospects. Firstly, the changes of the definition of an artist and the space of an artwork are not negative. These changes do not hinder the existence of interesting, urgent etc. art. Just sometimes it is useful to know the practical conditions of its existence, which would create a more direct way towards the meanings that can otherwise remain inaccessible. Secondly, an efficient way-out does exist, but it is not easily reached. The existence of the art market basically depends on the general condition of a consumer society. Thus the movements of an art worker looking for a way-out will be similar to the actions of one who tries to humanize the capitalist society in general.

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