Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sanctions + local art market = cultural diplomacy

An expanding base of art collectors worldwide holds potential for cultural diplomacy, perhaps in the least expected places.
The head of Christie’s reaffirmed that the continued success of the art market will not depend on the “one percent” and that new collectors are making an important contribution. Correspondingly, reports of proliferation of art fairs in East and Southeast Asia, and galleries of Central Asian art opening in Dubai, suggest confidence in the economic potential of the art market. Further, as auction houses, such as Christie’s, increase the number of on-line auctions, the influence of the art market across cultures will increase as well. The perceived economic potential and international bidding turns the trans-cultural exchange of art into a market-driven type of cultural diplomacy.
Iran - Museum of Contemporary ArtAn article in The Guardian provided insight into an added twist in Iran. Sanctions in response to Iran's nuclear program are causing prices of daily commodities to rise and consequently make art more of a luxury. In response, some gallery owners limit price increases to retain customers and thereby create an opportunity for more liberal emerging artists who have more modest expectations of earnings. Expats who are collectors also contribute to the dynamic. As foreign currencies grow stronger against the rial, expats can more readily afford to by art, and the works of more internationally minded emerging artists may appeal more than traditional artworks to the sensibilities of expats. So, sanctions may indirectly support local artists with ideals that are more compatible with foreign cultures.
In short, sanctions that are imposed in the interest of security not only cause the intended social unrest through economic hardship but also may cause shifts in political thought by enabling emerging artists who hold more liberal views.
What effect will sanctions against North Korea have on the local art market and cultural diplomacy?

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