For my inaugural musing in The White Cube Diaries I couldn’t help but address the white cube itself and its ability to authenticate anything within its pristine walls as art. With that said I am not stating that certain objects have falsely been named ‘art’ by being placed within a gallery (though some could disagree), but am merely calling attention to the omnipresent power of white cube of a gallery or museum. This realization could be seen as either horrifying or hopeful in the sense that the gallery is now the deciding factor of ‘true’ artistic merit; which means without it a successful artistic career cannot unfold or on the other hand, if you can convince a gallery to show your work that it will be elevated to ‘Art” (Marcel Duchamp can be thankful for the latter) and possibly have a successful career. Either way one must rely on the white cube. When people ask the question who decides what is art the answer seems to be the white cube.
I must now quote a section from Daniel Buren’s essay Function of Architecture in which he humorously brings to light the ironic the power of the cube.
A Bit of Bread
An empty museum of gallery means nothing, to the extent that it can at any time be transformed into a gym or a baker’s, without changing what will take place there or will be sold there, in terms of work of art in the future, since the social status will also have changed. Placing/exhibiting a work of art in a baker’s will in no way change the function of the aforementioned baker’s, which will never change the work of art into a bit of bread either.
Placing/exhibiting a bit of bread in a museum will in no way change the function of the aforementioned museum, but the later will change the bit of bread into a work of art, at least for the duration of its exhibition.
Now let’s exhibit a bit of bread in a baker’s and it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish it from the other bits of bread. Now let’s exhibit a work of art-of any kind-in a museum: can we really distinguish other works of art?
Let us chew on that for awhile…
Salvador Dali, Basket of Bread, 1945