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March 5, 2013

ARCA Trustee Erik Nemeth on the Political Economy of Cultural Property and A Gap in Cultural Intelligence

ARCA Trustee Erik Nemeth (and a lecturer on Cultural Security during the summer program in Amelia) published two articles on the political economics of cultural property and cultural intelligence last month.

"Alternative Power: Political Economy of Cultural Property" in Columbia's Journal of International Affairs begins:
Last May, The Scream by Edvard Munch set a record for the most expensive painting sold at auction. The $120 million sale at Sotheby’s in New York illustrated a trend in record prices for artworks at auction and in private sales. At the same time, members of the al Qaeda-linked group Ansar Dine started to target mausoleums of Sufi saints in Timbuktu, Mali, and conflict in Syria continued to compromise cultural heritage with the looting of the well preserved Crusader castle, Krak des Chevaliers. The purchase of The Scream and the destruction of the historic monuments represent extremes that derive from the perceived value of art and the strategic value of cultural heritage.
"A gap in cultural intelligence" in The Providence Journal begins:
What the heck happened to cultural sensibilities last year?
While collectors bid up record prices for artworks at auction--Edvard Munch's "The Scream" went for $120 million in May--they were criticized for a lack of aesthetic judgment, especially at the premier U.S. fair, Art Basel Miami Beach. And cultural heritage took a turn for the worse as well. Cooperation on repatriation of antiquities was overshadowed by grim reports of wanton destruction of historic sites in Mali and Syria. With both contemporary and ancient art, the desire to collect and possess seemed to outstrip cultural appreciation.
High-end collectors and cultural-heritage abusers alike would benefit from a boost in cultural intelligence, or "CQ," to grasp the interrelation of art, culture, economic development, and human rights..
You may follow his studies on the blog Art World Intelligence through the online newspaper Cultural Security News.