Institutional trustees of art, culture and aesthetics

Artifacts are the objects or experiences that express human discourse. Artifacts can be objects of utility or aesthetics and while they do not necessarily have form, they serve purposes. Artifacts, whether they are social or cultural, are the products of discourse, and discourse is the language produced by the entirety of human experience. It's what allows us to construct, shape and be shaped by our experiences. If we accept Foucault's assertion that discourse reflects a field encompassing "the totality of all effective statements (whether spoken or written)" than discourse cannot exist outside the spectrum of human participation and, conversely, we cannot exist outside of it. The artifacts we create represent objects inclusive of memory and knowledge, the material base, which constellates our experiences in image. The images and documents we create do not occur in the natural world, they are the "tangible artifacts that a discourse community constructs". Observing that artifacts are the products of discourse, and within discourse we are all participants, than it is logical to conclude that we are all authors, the originators, of artifacts.

A great deal of discursive dialogue exists surrounding the classification of "art". My observations are based on the contemporary classifications of art promulgated institutionally by trustees of culture, heritage and aesthetics collectively referred to as the "art world". In his 1964 essay entitled The Art World, Arthur Danto addressed the perceived paradoxical relationship between Andy Warhol's depiction of Brillo Boxes against what one might find in a grocery store by illuminating a body of discourse exclusive to the art world. Within this discursive framework, the art world's agency over "art" results from the exclusivity of an internal body of knowledge, "an atmosphere of artistic theory, a knowledge of the history of art..." Brillo Boxes is an excellent example of how classifications of art external to the art world can be seemingly incongruous with what often comes into the domain of the apparatus of the art world. An understanding of the function and purpose of the apparatus yields evidence as to why authorship of an artifact does not necessarily imply status as an artist (from a systemic perspective). Only when the artifact has been accepted by the art world does the transposition of the author to artist, the artifact to art, take place. An excerpt from Iris Hausler's He Named Her Amber sheds light on this proprietary function of the apparatus: "In this sense - considering the systemic creation of artifacts as a response to an emotional impulse intended to function in a role of immediacy, not mediation - Mary O'Shea produced exactly what we would today call "art""

The exclusivity of knowledge employed by the art world informs its agency over systemic classifications of art, the execution of knowledge (how the power of the apparatus is wielded) is evidenced through the curatorial practices employed by institutions claiming authority as trustees of culture, heritage and aesthetics (schools, galleries, museums and patrons of the arts). A "curator", by definition, employs expertise in the collection and oversight of objects of significance relative to a discipline. In other words, curation is a process involving the application of knowledge governing a particular subject matter. The systemic application of such a tightly focused body of knowledge allows curators, and those employed in curatorial platforms, to function as adjudicators, critics and custodians of culture, heritage and aesthetics. The broad professionalization of curation (academic curator, literary curator etc.) reflect a proliferation of apparatuses, and the accompanying processes of subjectification (as Agamben suggests) indicate that curation itself is becoming the subject matter.