Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Prix Pictet

Pictet Group is some fashion of wealth management organization, about $USD500B under management which makes them moderately big fish even in that particular pond. They sponsor an annual prize for Art, something something sustainability. They get a certain amount of ineffectual blowback from artists because, well, because Pictet and Pictet's customers are a large part of the problem here. So, fair enough.

Someone I have never heard of until today, Lisa Stein, wrote a piece on it, and specifically requested feedback. Probably not from people like me, but whatever.

You can read her piece here and it's worth reading, so you ought to. I'll wait.

dum dee dum

Ok, what I got out of her piece is that the Prix Pictet operation is, essentially, a fairly bland and obvious marketing operation. They are packaging Political/Protest Art in a way that is broadly appealing. There are a lot of details, but it's the same playbook you use to sell luxury cars, or athletic shoes. What, exactly, they're selling is a bit mysterious to me. They are, obviously, Art-washing Pictet itself. They are also selling the Art itself and the Artists, though. The Art is selected and packaged to be inoffensive, broadly appealing, despite its often fairly serious political content.

So, the question is, is this good or bad?

On the one hand, the operation is clearly, willfully, de-fanging the Art. There are no angry mobs shouting "EAT THE RICH!" here. There isn't really a lot of anger at all. In contrast to the content itself, the mood is vaguely upbeat. Often it is borderline offensive in its upbeatness.

This is definitely gonna get the choir angered, and angered they duly are every year about this time. They write grouchy tweets and think pieces. And, you know, they're not wrong. Pictet is part of the problem. Wealth, in general, is trouble, and it's all over and interwined with Art, and that sucks.

Worse, Wealth seems to be inoculated against the effects of political art. Billionaires will cheerfully purchase Art which directly calls for their destruction, if that Art is valuable in some fashion. They just don't seem to care.

Still, Pictet may not be without value. I direct your attention to my immensely long and boring think piece on how minds are changed.

And argument could be made that the Prix Pictet, with its bland and inoffensive marketing, is delicately smuggling in ideas to where they might do some real good. While billionaires do seem to be largely immune to the effects of political Art, perhaps by trying a variety of different venues, approaches, methods, the world as a whole can incrementally push the thinking of billionaires in a positive direction.

It is at any rate not completely impossible that Prix Pictet is normalizing a set of ideas within the community of the Very Wealthy, ideas which are in general not normal within that group. If so, that would be a good of perhaps almost incalculable worth.

You're not going to change the minds of billionaires much with a mob of angry sign-waving proles, unless you're willing to accept simply switching it off with a guillotine as "changing their minds." It is possible that a deft marketing campaign of inoffensive packaging of modestly radical Art might contribute something positive here. I dunno. It feels like a long shot.

But again, the value of a success here could be very very high, so perhaps it's worth some long shots.

I'm certainly not saying that the Prix Pictet operation is some sort of deep-cover psy-ops campaign against the Super Rich, that would be silly. If it is doing anything positive, it is as much by accident as anything else. It seems to be, at worst, harmless, though. And it injects a little cash into the Art World, right? So, that's not a bad thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment