Art as Collateral

The Detroit Institute of Arts recently announced its plans to raise $100 million to ensure that its art will not be sold to cover Detroit’s bankruptcy debts. And just this very concept is troubling to me.

I’ve always had a problem with the idea of people taking ownership of art, even the artist. Art is not a concrete object but is also the emotion and thought that is elicited and provoked; art is an interaction. How in the world can that be quantifiable, let alone be used to leverage the bankruptcy that was the result of corrupt politics?

Ownership of something as intangible and immaterial as art is offensive, not only because of the privilege and resources required to acquire what society dictates are masterpieces, but also because of the masturbatory implications of wanting to own art. People who buy art put it on open display, to flex their financial muscle in front of their audience, and show their ability to exert dominance and power. It is a perverted act of self-pleasure, especially so because it is one that stems from the sole desire to own, possess, and dominate.

And the fact that such a beloved town has to now scramble for money in order to avoid this is devastating. Over and out.

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