The art market as a constitute part of the art world, helps us contextualize art; provide a valuable critique in terms of understanding institutional, economic and political forces at play, and how to respond to them.
Gradually new questions and dilemmas regarding art institutions are provoked. One of the major changes in the art world was the move from modernism to post modernism and its implications to the philosophy of art, which opted for inclusivity rather than the previous elitist and exclusive model. As such postmodernism refuses recognition of a singular style or definition of “what is art”. Even though it may have succeeded to a certain extent to collapse the ideologies, it has failed emerging African artists.
Nothing has really changed; where systems of legitimisation that hold inequality in place, are still at play – the market made up by established artists, critics, curators, galleries, museums and auction houses in such milieu appear naïve to the idea of institutional metamorphosis. Smaller galleries who represent emerging artists, place the dealers and the artists that they represent in another disadvantage because they are more vulnerable to market pressures. It is obvious that there is an avoidance of responsibility because the market functions as a big consensus where people look for quality signals and validation from the same influential institutional bodies who, evidenced by the ridiculously imbalanced market sales statistics prove the inadequacy of the diversity mechanisms “employed”. There is obviously more that needs to be done to support the emerging.
The exclusion of emerging artists in the market, has resulted in artists creating their own market places by starting their own social media and studio galleries – forcing them into a position of dilettantism. It is not a natural state. So, while the artists aimed to “return to the real” as an effort to include ordinary people into the art institution space, it still has done very little to collapse the structures of elitism and inequality within the institution itself.