Thoughts on entanglement

A conversation with a student got me thinking about ‘entanglements’ and the role of specialists in dis-entangling art world participants. Michel Callon has done work looking at the theoretical role of economics (as a discipline) on the creation of markets (as real-world instances of economic theory). He argues, with examples, that one of the things that needs to happen is that normal people have to be transformed into economic actors, just as commodities have to be formed from things-in-the-ground to discrete commodities. He argues that one of the main ways economics affects markets is to make more possible these ‘calculative agencies’ – two good examples are cost-benefit analysis and William Cronon’s chapter from Nature’s Metropolis on the making of wheat futures.

As I said to the student, the presentation last week on embeddedness made me think about the creation of market actors in our case. In the Art world, museums have to be made from places-where-we-appreciate-Art to publicity/provenance makers; buyers from appreciators to either patrons or speculators or collectors; etc. All these actors have to have the pieces of them that think about Art (temporarily) downplayed, and the pieces that are part of the market-making machinery foregrounded. Specialists link all these pieces of buyers, advisors, galleries, museums, and consignors together. It only appears as though they are just estimating prices.

This is just first-pass speculation…

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