Ask The Art Life #1

Art Life Oct 14, 2009 No Comments

Writes Jesse Cohen: “The MCA is desperate to find money to redevelop their building and they have at least two prominent Jewish bankers in their sights as potential donors. How to explain, then, that they decided to name their current exhibition after a book Making it New by a famous anti-semite Ezra Pound who produced propaganda for the fascists in the Second World War and famously [claimed that] Jewish bankers were responsible for the world’s problems?”

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Ezra Pound, captive of the Allied Forces, Italy, May 26th, 1945

Dear Jesse – Yes, it does seem odd doesn’t it? “Jewish bankers” underwriting a real estate adventure of a museum of contemporary art that gives oxygen to a Fascist sympathiser and renowned anti-semite. But the thing is this – no one cares about Ezra Pound’s politics anymore. Pound is a popular reference point if you want to give an exhibition a little bit of intellectual clout and thus you will find shows such as Making It New at the MCA or In A Station of The Metro, Shaun Gladwell‘s survey show at Artspace in 2007 – named after Pound’s poems. The art world like its politics to be as contemporary as its art and doesn’t really care for battles that were fought and won some sixty four years ago. It also helps that in Pound’s case he was also a pretty decent poet. Indeed, if you were a decent artist of any political stripe it hardly matters what your actual beliefs were while you were alive, with enough time it can all be happily forgotten, ignored or reinterpreted. Just take a look at the recent Futurism exhibition in London and the Tate Modern. And the great thing about the largesse of art world benefactors is that they seem quite happy to give cash to institutions, galleries and other cultural bodies to stage events that may in some form contain content they don’t personally agree with. It’s called democracy. It might also be a mistake to think that “Jewish Bankers” have no sense of irony.

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The Art Life

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