Touching on taboo

Q&A with with editor-at-large at The Art Newspaper and Financial Times Art Market correspondent Georgina Adam

2 min read

Apart from facilitating, how can business have a positive influence on the arts?

It depends if you mean business in general or a business that sponsors art in particular? I think the money obviously helps in such things as production, but I suppose the most important way is by giving the art in question a much more global impact through the busi- ness’s networks, for instance Murakami has become much better known because of LV, or a number of artists through the tie-up with Absolut Vodka.

How can business have a negative influence?

The problem is if the business ends up influencing the art. If the sponsored artist starts making art as a function of its sponsor’s needs or goals, then it loses credibility. Also, if say a museum allows itself to be sponsored, but the sponsor wants to censor the art, that is a problem as well. And rarely do businesses want to sponsor anything really challenging. So the art side has to compromise, which is not necessarily good for the art. And I think artists have lost credibility if they become too commercial.

How can limitations in the arts have a positive effect?

If you mean monetary limitations, then it can be creative, for instance the Arte Povera movement was born out of lack of money to buy material.

What is still taboo in arts and business partnerships?

The business world rarely wants to be associated with art that is extremely controversial or challenging. I mean political, sexual content. So some exhibitions will always have a hard time attracting sponsorship.

Can the arts help overcome taboo?

The arts can help overcome by making something previously unacceptable become acceptable through critical acclaim or sheer exposure. Pornography has gone mainstream since Mapplethorpe or Koons and many others – all those 70s feminist artists. Or Vasconcelos’ chande- lier made of tampons.

How can taboo stimulate innovation in both the arts and business?

Artists will always challenge convention so taboos are there to be con- fronted, and can lead to creativity and pushing forward the notion of what constitutes an artwork. Businesses need to “think outside the box” and challenging taboos is a way of doing this.

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