neil cummings

June 2009


I contribute to the editorial board of Documents of Contemporary Art, these are readers co-published by the Whitechapel Gallery and MIT press.

In recent decades artists have progresively expanded the boundaries of art, as they have sought to engage with an increasingly varied social, political and cultural environment. Likewise, being an artist, teaching, curating and/or interpreting art and visual culture is no longer the perogative of traditional disciplines, but consists of overlapping practices centered on significant ideas, topics and themes. Ranging from the Everyday to Beauty, the psychoanalytical to the political.

The Documents of Contemporary Arts series emerges from these contexts. Each volume -edited by a guest scholar, artist critic or curator - focuses on a specific subject or body of thought that has been a key influence on current international art. 

Markets and Morals

Political philosopher Professor Michael Sandel delivered the first of the BBC's 2009 Reith Lectures.

A New Citizenship builds on a lifetime’s work exploring issues around democracy, ethics and ‘politics of the common good’. Many of the themes we are developing within Critical Practice, especially for publicness

The first lecture called for a new politics of the common good.

I wrote into the lecture as I listened, and then ammended those notes

First Sandel suggested we have to recognise the limits, the moral limits of the idea of a competitive market. Clearly, markets are not the best technology for achieving a public good. So, to enable markets to contribute - to a public good, we need to reconnect them to different structures of evaluation; moral, ethical, environmental, etc. And to drives for social justice. Collective integrity and shared values have to triumph over individual greed. But how?

For Sandel, self interest is a personal need; like self respect, self-worth, and self love. And like greed or profit, these drives animate markets. Markets are connected to welbeing, therefore we need markets. They are also very good at distributing resources, but we have to recognise thay are a limited technology. There are some things that money, at work in markets cannot buy - like  friendship, and some things money should not buy - like a child.

Expert 1

28 May 2009

Jorge expert 1The first of the Procesos de archivo/ Archivalprocess. 'expert working sessions' took place at Intermediæ in Madrid. The working sessions are to enable the core curatorial team to gain knowedge and experience. The sessions are closed but resources will be on-line soon.

Artist and amateur archivist Jorge Blasco Gallardo, founder of Culturas de Archivo and Amateurarchivist lead the sessions.

In the first, Jorge gave an extraordinary 5 hour tour-de-force presentation on the history, politics and philosophy of the idea of the archive.

I wrote into Jorge’s presentation as he spoke, following are the tweaked notes....



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