Soon, You Can Buy Art Like You Buy Kale

08/22/2013 10:45 AM |

This sort of looks like CSA cauliflower, maybe? c/o CSA+D
  • This sort of looks like CSA cauliflower, maybe? c/o CSA+D

The Daily News reported earlier today that the Brooklyn Community Support Art + Design debuted New York City’s first subscription service for artwork. Inspired by the Community Supported Agriculture model, members can pay into two tiers of payment for their distributions: $250 for three pieces per season, and $500 for six. Artists are paid $3,000 for every 50 pieces submitted.

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I mean, I can get behind food co-ops and CSAs. I’m not a member of either models right now, partly because I can’t commit time to really participate and partly because I can’t help myself from generalizing about co-op members. You know, those people that grill the barista about the milk: “Is it organic? Where is it from? Do you have almond? Rice?” I totally acknowledge that the self-righteous customer isn’t produced from the CSA/Co-op world, and that people should know where their food comes from, but you just keep running into those CSAers that make a point to talk down to you. And I just would prefer not to be associated with that gang, even though they’re more committed to noble and moral pursuits than me.

Perhaps I’m too much of a cynic, but I don’t think CSA models, when applied to goods outside of agriculture and food, are all that sustainable. It’s worth noting that food disappears into waste, and then into more waste. Say you pay the $500 for six works of art one season, and $500 the next, and say you enjoy eight of those 12 pieces. Here, you can either a) re-sell them for personal profit; b) gift them away; or c) hoard them. And if these artworks are re-circulated, where do they end up? Should we even care where they end up? Or is the artist more important than the artifact—even though the artifact is what will last beyond a human life? Also, do you get to choose which pieces you want, or is the whole set up just about owning locally made art for the sake of owning locally made art?

It’s a clever way to re-conceive of the art-as-product problem, raising the question whether we can ever escape valuing art on the dollar, since we have to live by the dollar. I just worry about hivemindedness under the banner of collectivity, is all.

Follow Ryan Chang on twitter @avantbored