An Accidental Intersection

The philosophy of John Berger’ Ways of Seeing and The Price of Everything intersect, almost by accident, through the display of “high” societies’ monopolization of art. The Price of Everything confidently toits the insane prices of artistic pieces at auctions, creating an unintentional sensation of dread for every raised hand intent on meeting and raising the bid. Art is referred to as assets, as commodities, rather than as aesthetical visions. John Berger argues that art is intentionally mystified through the meddlings of the ruling minority– to the rich, art is a commodity to which only the rich can afford. The trade of art becomes an in-house operation, wherein the wealthy trade only to the wealthy, thereby making art so remote and so unattainable that art becomes mystified.

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Art, much like people themselves, must be held to an ethical standard. In fact, through the progression of the modern age, art ought to and must be held to higher standards due to the ready availability provided by the Internet. Is the art depicting overtly anti-Black images? Is the art created using a brown directly created from the wrappings of a robbed, mummified corpse? Is the creation of the art and the transactions including the art pumping unnecessary amounts of carbon directly into the atmosphere? These are all necessary questions– art should not only be judged on the criteria of pleasure or pain, but rather art should also be judged on the criteria of non-monetary cost. With the creation of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), the mingling of art and capital have created a most ugly offspring. NFTs are a cryptocurrency using tactics of false scarcity to sell domains of “artistic” images. Now, rather than owning art, the primary goal of the NFT is to be sold at a higher value which, thereby, eliminates the purpose of art to produce feeling. Instead, the NFT produces more than 200 kilograms of carbon through every transaction, and NFTs can be made of any artistic work even if the individual has no ownership of the image. Art and capital should only co-mingle at the benefit of the artist and the non-destruction of anything else.

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Hopefully, by now, my opinion on the intersectional argument of and The Price of Everything and John Berger’ Ways of Seeing has been made relatively clear. Truthfully, I bare no love for the wealthy and, frankly, disdain the continued existence of the ruling minority that has for so long mystified the common folk through an abusive hold on the aesthetic tradition. The rich justify their existence, no matter how pointless, and instead rob humanity of its legacies and its resources– turning the “commoner” against themselves with the false promises that they, too, can ascend above, betray those of their status and be one who finally holds the reins. The NFT is just another malicious tool in a long line of foul trades. The continual practice of combining capital and art will forever be a method of control amongst the ruling minority– keeping the artist poor, and keeping us lessers desperate.


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