This Project As Art

PROTFITISM: A movement of art started by Astrid Bin that states that art is not devalued by the amount of money it makes or is sold for and is concerned with the creative process of making money as a way of reflecting our consumerist society.

"I declare art open for business."
-- Astrid Bin, 02/02/05

I've tied myself into knots lately trying to pin down this project's context, how it relates to money, how this is performance, why it's art, how it's art, and WOW is it ever hard. I have resisted saying "Don't ask me how it's art, IT JUST IS. Now everyone leave me alone."

I'm finding the worst part is that there's no precident. I've been searching high and low and can't find anything that relates to what I'm doing. Which is exciting, but it's not easy.

I finally said SCREW IT, and posted what I had so far. This is ever-developing.

February 5, 2005

The First Post on Art and Profitism

"What is art? Art is everything." -- Marcel Duchamp

An Introduction.

So I've been trying to write about this project's context in art for five weeks now. I've been trying to pin down money's role in art, money's role in society.

Whenever I look at these issues, I look closer, and a million branches and exceptions spin off in a million directions. I can't pin it down. Iíve gone to art books, Iíve read critics, Iíve read economic theory, and I canít find what it is Iím trying to say. I can't find a precident, I can't find peers in the art world. On the contrary, some of the most vehment hate mail has come from artists who say that I'm doing something wrong.

That's why I haven't published it here yet.

But I don't want to seem like I'm avoiding the issue or ignoring it - hell knows I babble at the camera about this issue every goddamn day - so I'm going to try to trap some of these thoughts here and now.

(I keep thinking that maybe I'm breaking new ground and that's why this is all so freakin difficult. It may be, however, that I'm missing something giant and obvious - if you have something to say, I'm happy to hear it.)

This is going to be long. Youíve been warned. This is the first step in a developing process. Iíll be editing.

Whatís art, anyway?

All right, let's address this by using performance art as an example. That's something I know about.

If you've seen my art page you've seen the kind of stuff I've been doing for a few years now. I like duration performance - performance that lasts hours or days or months and is really repetitive - because every little movement has meaning once you put an entire block of time in an art context.

I dealt with this in my thesis in my final year in school (I've been thinking of publishing it here for a performance perspective of what I'm doing, and also because I think would be funny because I don't think my thesis "advisors" ever bothered to read it). What's the difference between washing the dishes every night and washing the dishes for eight hours straight in a gallery? What is the magic thing that makes one just what everyone does after dinner and the other "art"?

Duchamp declared "What is art? Art is everything." He set about proving that the only thing that separated "art" from "everything else" was declaring "See this thing? It's art because I say it is." Everythingís art Ė urinals in galleries, suspending your body by fishhooks, wrapping the Reichstag in plastic. Because of this definition, the twentieth century saw people declaring all kinds of wacky stuff as art. The most interesting I think was the exploration of Life As Art.

There are a lot of stunning examples of Life As Art from recent decades, one of my favourites being the one by Linda Montano and Japanese artist Tehching Hsieh. They spent a year tied together at the waist with an eight-foot length of rope. A YEAR. No privacy, never ever being untied, never being more than eight feet apart. At the beginning of the piece they shaved their heads so their hair would mark the passage of time, they took a Polaroid picture each day that represented what was going on (I've never seen these, but I hear that a lot of them are just a photo of the word "FIGHT"), they worked and lived together in this experiment of performance and life. (The story goes that when the rope was cut at the end of year they hugged and then took a swing at each other. I don't know about right now, but the last time I heard they still did not agree on what the piece was about.)

What makes that art, and not just two nutjobs tied together? If everything is art Ė and I agree very much with Duchamp on this one Ė so is that performance.

Good old Marcel, however, left the most tantalizing question that comes from his definition of art completely unanswered: ďIf everythingís art, how do we define what GOOD art is?Ē

Now thatís a whole other ball of wax. One that I donít have the ability to answer. I donít want to take that kind of thing on anyway Ė Iím plenty busy these days.

Back to My Million Dollar Year. I believe that I have taken the act of making money into an art context, and a performance context. I donít think that whether or not itís art is a question I can be concerned with right now, or else Iíll get nothing done. This is art. Whether or not itís any good is up for debate after this piece is finished.

Art and Money

All this What Is Art business out of the way, I want to state that I feel very strongly that just because something is art doesnít make it right, moral, or ethical. I donít believe, for example, torturing an animal for the sake of art makes it right. I donít believe that murder in the name of art makes it right. Art isnít exempt in some way from morals and ethics.

Iíve had a lot of people accusing me of being ďimmoralĒ and ďunethicalĒ with this project, which I find very interesting. It seems that when money and art collide, people get very up in arms.

I am fascinated with why a project concerned with money cannot be art, why suddenly cries of ďYouíre not an artist! Youíre an opportunist! Youíre a greedy bitch! Real artists STARVE!Ē start coming in when someone has the gall to merge art and money.

I am fascinated with why - in our enormously commercial society, where people define themselves by the items they buy and the TV shows they watch, where money is such an intrinsic part of absolutely everything - art and money must be kept separate.

I am fascinated with why so many people will not accept art making money and still being considered legitimate. Art is, in one capacity, supposed to mirror society back to us and make sense of whatís going on.

I am fascinated by why art, if it mirrors the experience of financial struggle which is such a part of our culture, such a common experience, itís somehow not art anymore.

Above all, I am fascinated with why when art makes a shitload of money the artistic value is somehow devalued. Iím constantly told that Iím peddling entertainment, that I have no business calling this capital-A art.

If youíre getting hate mail, you must be doing something right I guess.

If you canít beat em, declare a revolution.

I declare a new art movement. Itís called Profitism.

Maybe youíve heard of it.

Profitism: A Primer.

I do not believe that artists have to be broke.

I do not believe that making money devalues or legitimizes art, in any way.

I believe that making money is an extension of our consumer culture, and that bringing this consumer culture into an art context to better understand it is a valuable use of time and effort.

I do not believe that art that does not make money is inherently more valuable than art that does.

I do not believe that art exists in a bubble outside the present hyper-consumerist system. Anyone whoís prayed for grant approval can admit this.

I believe that the making of money is an infinitely creative experience. I think the marriage of art and money does not start here, but it started a long time ago and thereís been some denial going on.

Just because art makes money does not lessen its value as art.

I declare art open for business.


Want to tell me what I'm missing? Tell me.