As the culture industry expands, “contemporary art” emerges.

Interviewee: Roger Behrens

As the reach of the culture industry expands, contemporary art emerges out of Modernism. Whereas Modernism was still an aesthetically specific term for an epoch, contemporary art no longer designates anything specifically aesthetic, but rather merely a market segment, to take up Kerstin Stakemeier’s idea. Today art is also exclusively a commodity, and that includes political and social art, which, in order to be recognised as such, have to pass through the market segment “contemporary art” to enter the discursive field. And so, to finally answer your question: in a perfidious way the fetish character of the commodity art is doubled under the conditions of the culture industry – the fetishized aesthetic semblance now augments the economic-consumerist commodity fetish, i.e. art is now attributed a power surpassing its commodified form as art, namely the power of aesthetics: the – purported – capacity of art to aestheticize life, to enhance it aesthetically…and this also applies for politically engaged art.

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