Series of 13 drawings, pencil on paper, 43.5 X 36 centimetres
Sector Snapshot contends that the way in which the art market manages and optimizes the return on its assets (that is, its artists) is, in fact, remarkably similar to the approach used by fund managers to manage a portfolio of equities or by marketers to manage a portfolio of brands, albeit with less transparency. Furthermore, many of the practices used to create a captivating aura around the artist are precisely the same as those employed by marketers to enhance the image of premium consumer brands, such as minimizing brand dilution by carefully choosing who owns the artist’s work.
Sector Snapshot tests this thesis by applying the tools, frameworks and aesthetics utilized by equity analysts and consumer brand managers to the contemporary art market. In so doing, Nanigian assumes the roll of a securities equity analyst responsible for evaluating the performance of a particular market sector, and forming judgments about the investment potential of companies within that sector. However, rather than covering a currently recognizable sector such as healthcare, telecommunications or luxury goods, Nanigian has created a new sector comprised of today's leading contemporary art galleries, naming it theContemporary22.
Stealing its title from the daily Market Gauges page in the business section of the New York Times, Sector Snapshot tracks the performance of the Contemporary22 overall and subjects it to the same line charts, two-by-two matrices and tabulations, including comparison to the S&P 500 stock market index. In addition, it accesses each individual gallery's asset portfolio performance, as well as, the health of its portfolio mix.
Sector Snapshot's use of the financial markets as a metaphor for how today's artists are judged, managed and regarded aims to be provocative by design. By eliciting debate about the basic overall premise, as well as, its specific methodology, Sector Snapshot also raises questions about the influence of today's contemporary art market structure and practices on contemporary art itself. For example, does a competitive, commercially-oriented marketplace taint the transcendental power of art? Or do free market forces actually enhance the potency of art by broadening its allure and accessibility? Or finally, does the industry structure simply represent an inert, logistical infrastructure with an ultimately neutral effect on the essence and reception of contemporary art?