Not too long ago, I had conversation with a friend of mine, a dealer of photographic books and prints, about the book publishing industry. He seemed down about the state of things; while photobook publishing is at an all time high, my friend regretted the pollution that permeates the field. The book industry is now dominated by large corporate producers and distributors.
I responded by saying that I think the worst thing that happened to art is art market, Chelsea. Once art was commodified, its resale value become a source of meaning. The photobook — now broadly excepted and consumed in the art market — is the most frequent causality of the market.
The purpose of capitalism, at least as it is pursued in the United States, is to make capital more powerful than labor. Once this is accomplished, threats are easily consumed and turned into products (just think of Kurt Cobain or John Lennon).
The real flaw in capitalism, in Karl Marx’s critique, is that labor is devalued, and then ultimately becomes detached and estranged from the individuals involved. Meaning in art, in my mind, is largely about process, and thus labor. The market removes this meaning, reducing it to a product and an appearance.