If you can justify anything in the name of art can you justify almost everything in the name of profit. Or, are these more successful versions, the cream of the millions of small time hustlers and scam artists who lacked the breaks and maybe some of the brains to worm themselves into high roller territory. They are just the mirror reflection of those living in shanty towns in America, the squatters in foreclosed homes. Yet, their wealth and encumbent waste and conspicuous activities seems to enhance their reputation. There is a certain attraction/repulsion at work, where an aspect of public voyeurism is present and feeds onto the materialist frenzy and fetish objects which are discarded en route. After, all we buy their crappy products and whose consumption is also a form of conspicuous waste, our little little luxuries of pop culture kitsch, in which the time could be spent creating or helping others. Like a Damon Runyan story, these billionaires are just guys n’ dolls, albeit golden ones.And we are complicit with them. And why should artists tend to be forgiven for dishonesty and not business people? In the example below, hustler artist Luc Bellemare is no worse a pathological liar than the cream of American capitalism…
…It’s no surprise that top earners in America make a heck of a lot more than middle- and lower-income Joes. But the disparity is greater here than in most developed nations….
…The U.S. has a higher level of income inequality than Europe, as well as Canada, Australia and South Korea, according to data gathered by the World Bank. And, while many nations have seen income inequality rise within their borders, the United States has experienced a more rapid increase in recent decades, widening the wealth gap even more. “The top 1% in the U.S. really receive much more than in Western European countries,” said Branko Milanovic, an economist with the World Bank and author of “The Haves and the Have-Nots.” America ranks in the bottom third of the list of 90 countries that Milanovic compiled, which is mainly based on 2008 data of per capita income or consumption in each nation.
The data is then put into a complex formula to provide the Gini index, which determines how much money would have to be redistributed for everyone to have the same income. The higher the figure, which ranges between 0 and 100, the more unequal the country. Slovenia and the Slovak Republic top the global list, reflecting the fact that they have the most equal economies. Most of Western Europe, Canada, South Korea and Australia rank in the top half….
But while the U.S ranks low among rich nations, plenty of countries are worse off, particularly in Latin America. Honduras and Guatemala have the most income inequality, according to the World Bank. Income inequality has also soared in the former Communist countries of Russia and China, as they shifted to market economies. Russia is only slightly better than the U.S., while China has become more unequal. But the U.S. still stands out as a developed economy with such a great divide between rich and poor. The reasons behind its weak showing on the global stage are many and experts differ over which factors predominate.
Technology has contributed to the growing gap. As jobs require greater skills, it’s harder for those with just a high school diploma to land good-paying employment. A college degree has become a requirement for more lucrative positions.
At the same time, increased globalization is squeezing the middle class. Many companies are outsourcing jobs to other countries where workers are paid less. Also, other nations produce goods at cheaper prices so fewer U.S. firms are making items here. Hence, there are fewer opportunities to make a decent wage. And what’s unique to the United States is the relative lack of government support compared to Europe and Canada. Other countries provide more public services, including health insurance, higher education, daycare and pensions. And these benefits are provided on a more universal basis, rather than being dependent on one’s income level, as in the United States.
…Other factors also play a role in the widening divide in America. Low-skilled immigrants to the U.S. increase the competition for low-wage jobs, said Lane Kenworthy, a sociology professor at the University of Arizona. This allows employers to keep a lid on wages.Read More:http://money.cnn.com/2011/11/08/news/economy/global_income_inequality/index.htm
…it was one of many such triumphs for Bellemare thanks to a resumé that couldn’t be ignored: his work in the National Gallery; acquisitions by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Museum of Civilization; a PhD from Carleton University; stories written about his groundbreaking work in the Gland Mail, the New York Times and USA Today.All of it is impressive. None of it is true.
For more than a year and a half now, Michel Luc Bellemare has been moving through Ottawa’s art community, leveraging his fabulous resumé to gain hanging space and media coverage. It has been an audacious campaign of manipulation, one assisted by the false echo chamber of the Internet.But where did he think it all would take him? Did he really think he could build a career on deception? Dealers, curators and his fellow artists — at least those who realize what he is doing — now see him as a shameless liar. Yet Bellemare insists everything can be justified: all in the name of art. …“It’s like if Tom Thomson or van Gogh was an abstract painter and threw caution to the wind and strictly focused on the application of huge amounts of paint to a canvas,” Bellemare has written of his work. He wouldn’t elaborate on that, but Zimonjic said Bellemare once emailed gallery staff a photo that appeared to show a small painting of his displayed on a National Gallery wall — after he’d hung it there himself.Bellemare’s online LinkedIn profile mentions at least one obvious truth: that he is “experienced at promotional and marketing strategies and tactics.”…
Using those, he has attracted some real media play.Various false claims were repeated by local Metro News and Metroland Media publications. The Citizen didn’t go unscathed, either; Bellemare managed to get promotional coverage in a Citizen advertorial publication called The Wrap.One article, in a web-based Ottawa arts magazine called Unfolding, talked about Bellemare’s success at earning a living as an artist: “His only secret is communicating honesty.” That was the photo caption, too: “Michel Bellemare: communicating honesty.”
The release Brown read was signed with the name of David Moos, until recently the head curator of modern and contemporary art at the AGO. “It wasn’t written by the AGO?” Brown asked. “Oh, my heavens!”Bellemare’s biggest coup came on CBC Radio. On March 2 of this year, he was interviewed on All in a Day, the Ottawa afternoon show hosted by Alan Neal. The eight-minute segment was about a show of Bellemare’s at the Raw Sugar Café, a Chinatown coffee house with some wall space for local art. Near the end of the interview, after mentioning that Bellemare’s work had been acquired by the National Gallery and the Museum of Civilization, Neal asked why he decided to have a show in a coffee shop.It was a matter of giving something back, Bellemare answered.“I used to go to the coffee shop a lot and I just thought: Why not give this café a glimpse or an opportunity to have — I would say, you know — really world-class art on its walls.”… it might be a mistake to doubt Bellemare’s sincerity in this one regard: the belief he seems to have in his own painting and in his philosophical writings, which make an argument, so far neglected by the rest of the world, that colour is the basis of all human thought….“In the end, I believe I have produced a new art form that is soundly based on a philosophy based on colour.” Read More:http://www.ottawacitizen.com/travel/artful%20dodger/5929208/story.html