Art Administration VS Mainstream

October 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Okay it is not a fresh actualities – I am sorry. Nevertheless, for those of you who have missed it last year, I cannot invite you enough to read the book “Mainstream” written by Frédéric Martel, a sociologist who worked for several years as a cultural attaché in the United States. Its subtitle “An Inquiry on the Culture that Pleases the Whole World” explains pretty much the subject of the book. Its first part is entirely dedicated to a deep analysis of American industries of entertainment. A lot of precious interviews and astonishing facts give us a better understanding of American policy towards culture.

Even if this book tells us about the industry of entertainment and does not directly deal with art administration’s issues, it is still really interesting. Because what is Art administration if not the way we deal with other cultural areas that are not answering to globalised market mechanisms. Art administration often deals with high culture, sometimes with counter cultures and communities, but never with Mainstream. In some way, Art administration is the ancestor of Mainstream culture. Indeed, these industries of entertainment do understand and match with a globalised world, where internet and marketing seem to fundamentally work for them. In some way, Art administration has now become both the little shy brother and the hatred enemy of this Mainstream culture. But to call once again for the usual dichotomy between populism and high quality, entertainment and art, Goliath and David, would be too simple, for we know that some blockbusters are also fine art. This is to say that the dichotomy between Art administration and Mainstream culture can be as much a question of aim, as it can be a difference of mentalities, or a difference of skills and technique. But studying what Mainstream culture is, teaches in the same time what Art administration is not and what it could become. Finally it can be as much a source of inspiration as it can be a way to situate Art administration relatively to Mainstream culture, which is certainly one of its biggest challenges nowadays.

And if you think that the book “Mainstream” is the nice delirium of a French sociologist, check this out, it comes from the New-Yorker and it is Richard Brody himself who writes about it:

– Victor


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