W. o’ W.: Dave Hickey

“The presumption of art’s essential ‘goodness’ is nothing more than a political fiction that we employ to solicit taxpayers’ money for public art education, and for the public housing of works of art that we love so well their existence is inseparable from the texture of the world in which we live. These are worthy and indispensable projects. No society with even half a heart would even think to ignore them. But the presumption of art’s essential ‘goodness’ is a conventional trope. It describes nothing. Art education is not redeeming for the vast majority of students, nor is art practice redeeming for the vast majority of artists. The ‘good’ works of art that reside in our museums reside there not because they are ‘good,’ but because we love them. The political fiction of art’s virtue means only this: the practice and exhibition of art has had beneficial public consequence in the past. It might in the future. So funding them is worth the bet. That’s the argument: art is good, sort of, in a vague, general way. Seducing oneself into believing in art’s intrinsic ‘goodness,’ however, is simply bad religion, no matter what the rewards. It is bad cult religion when professing one’s belief in art’s ‘goodness’ becomes a condition of membership in the art community.”

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