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Apr 28, 2012

Capitalism v.s. Art


Capitalism is a great system for a lot of things. But the creation of good art is not one of them. A capitalist cannot actually see art because he can only see value in terms of money. Case in point:

 I have actually seen quite a bit of success as an artist in this culture and am grateful for that. I am a strange person, but mostly I am strange as an artist. I am a monastic who lives as a hermit in the wilderness of my studio, daily laboring on the refinement of my artistic prayers. Although I generally finish my work and make it available for display as art, I have increasingly lost interest in the role of “being an artist” in our culture, which only rewards artists as a creators of products of decoration and entertainment and only rarely for meaningful content.  There is a long tradition of artists rebelling against the process– inevitable in a capitalist system– of art becoming commodified. But much as artists try to empty art of material the capitalists don't bat an eye as they figure out how to market even conceptual art- art that is nothing but an idea. (You can actually buy an idea for a conceptual work- for a hefty price of course- and take home nothing but a receipt!)


Does this mean my work is without value? Quite the contrary! I have many very devoted single fans who have acquired (been “sold”) a work or sometimes several, who follow my art with interest. But the capitalist system also denies them access to my work unless they either pay for art directly or access an institution that has “hired” my work (usually at some expense to me) for display. Ironically, in this unfriendly environment it's hard to even give my art away without it becoming essentially worthless. A person who's raised in a capitalist world only values something highly when much is paid for it. That means that one who receives something for free often values it little.

So I am stuck as an exile imprisoned in a capitalist culture. I recognize that this is my problem, not yours. But what becomes your problem is finding significant art in a world that can't locate that Holy Grail for you. Art museums are pretty good at picking good art out of history but they are not so good at discerning contemporary art due to the terrific flak flying around the capitalist environment, where discernment is polluted with all manner of commercial activity, personal conflicts of interest and the anti-esthetic pull of fashion. The capitalist world has no way of finding meaning in art (outside the rare appearance of a self-less art critic with taste and a popular platform). If you want art that moves you, you have NO WAY of finding it systematically. Your only hope is to somehow stumble upon it.
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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.