Monday, January 30, 2012

Sedate West and Wild East

Are traditional views on cultural security limiting the economic potential of art in the West? The western art world is no less vibrant but there seems to be a flair, or "wildness" if you will, in the East.
Collectors in China are buying back traditional pieces, such as a reported $83 million paid for a Chinese vase, and investing in contemporary artworks by Chinese artists (see Misdirection of "Cultural Security"). The contemporary art market in India burgeons and reports of smuggling through the Sunderbans suggests an active illicit market in artifacts. In the Middle East, the translation of Sarah Thornton's "Seven Days in the Art World" into Arabic indicates an interest in learning about, if not adopting, western wiles of the art trade.
So, the West is demonstrating a sincerity and earnestness in cultural security from a traditional point of view i.e. returning cultural property to regions of origin and deterring trafficking in art, antiquities, and artifacts, while the East seems to be seeking innovation in cultural security by buying back cultural patrimony, actively exploiting the economic potential of contemporary art, and all the while showing willingness to appreciate western market know-how.
As much as it's right to commend western efforts, is it not difficult not to admire eastern initiative?

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