The World on a Calendar: Coordinating the Global Art Market through Time, Events, and Location
Sociology University of Chicago Chicago, USA
Using the case of the global art market, I suggest the 'global calendar' as a way of providing a time and location linked form of coordination. In my research into the contemporary art market, I question how the overall global market is held together: what structures, organizations, events and other elements bring order and coordination to the disparate actors and regions that participate? The answer, I suggest, is a loose form of organization conducted through a calendar of events and happenings, a calendar that runs throughout the world, but is segmented in space and time. Despite the long existence of a 'global imaginary' about a world-spanning art market, prior to about 1980, the art market was more of an international, rather than global form, where only a few cities were centers of transnational activity. In the late 1980s, this shifted to a form that spanned much more of the globe, and this 'market calendar' is actively growing and recruiting participation from new centers of wealth and artistic activity, such as Beijing and Dubai. This recruitment of new art market centers is partly strategic, seeking to bring in new money from growing and previously marginalized nations like China, India, and Russia, and there is a corresponding self recruitment as smaller cities attempt to become centers for the arts as a form of economic development. Focusing activity in these new centers for short amounts of time is one way the market calendar is able to accommodate new locations. For example, New York is a year-round center for the art market, but Miami, FL becomes the center of attention for a week in December, during the ArtBasel Miami Beach art fair. In this paper, I present my theory of the global calendar, with some preliminary results from my initial research, examining the role of art fairs, entrepreneurs, news media, and other coordinating factors.