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The Art Index as Art

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For artists already participating in the art market, appropriating the tools of finance may help them to gain more control and protection in this financializing field. Art Investment 2014-Art Asset 1 is a tactical intervention by this author that is grounded in institutional critique methods – including Bourdieuian sociological analysis – that uses scraped stock market data-feeds to visualize the performance of companies on the Skate’s Art Stock Index (SASI). The SASI is an art industry index fund that provides investors with access to the art market without buying art. Art indexes such as the SASI reduce the impact of an artist’s work to a data-point averaged alongside the expected quarterly profit of major auction houses. As such, the SASI represents a total financial abstraction. Examination reveals the index’s lack of objectivity and raises doubts about its ability to represent the industry. Art market financialization threatens to shift the field from pre-capitalist logic, which disavows profit-seeking, towards increasingly profit-driven motives, leading to financial abstraction and the transposition of technical obscurity from the field of finance. Art Investment 2014-AA1 makes the SASI into an artwork: its placement in a museum underscores the role of the museum in the market. The ‘art index as art’ exposes and inverts the logic of art investment, while questioning assumptions underpinning the art index: including the notion that value can be financially abstracted from art objects. Despite the discontinuation of the SASI, art market financialization shows no signs of diminishing, and there is still room for creative intervention.
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Keywords: Art Index Fund; Art Market; Financialization; Institutional Critique; Tactical Media

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 3, 2018

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