“The two greatest stores of wealth internationally today [are] contemporary art [...and] apartments in Manhattan.[...]” -Larry Fink, BlackRock

Debt is the key to seeing American art today.
Debt brings into focus a booming art market parallel to a generation of culture workers slipping into financial ruin. All debts are connected.

The average American artist today is a debtor; financializing their visions, unable to see beyond cresting loan payments, artists are pressured to adopt the aesthetics–and the politics–most pleasing to the market. They have become conditioned to wade ever deeper into financial risk in exchange for aspirations of success in the art market.

It is known that hedge fund managers, multinational banking CEOs, and real estate developers are the world’s largest collectors of both art and debt. Moonlighting on museum and auction house boards, this Collector Class derives profits from the trading of these two assets, art and debt, influencing the tides of the art world by shaping and monetizing the artistic canon.

The Collector Class has invented financial instruments that dissolve their own financial and political risk while everyone else bears the burden. The hidden violence in this system is now emerging.

Debt, in the form of indentured labor and colonial extraction, is at the foundation of global racial and social inequities. The process continues today as entire populations, including Greece, Argentina, and Puerto Rico, are forced to sell off their futures to vulture fund partners at 1000% return on investment. The Collector Class extracts value and reaps returns from securitized public resources, education debts, credit card debts, municipal debts and mortgage debts. All over the world, people have become debtors before citizens. Debtors before artists. Debtors before people. We believe that this world will not find balance until reparations are paid.

While elites join debts together into bundles to securitize profits, debtors see themselves as increasingly isolated, lost in one-sided financial precarity. And yet, unexpectedly, there lies before us an opportunity to locate ourselves in this global struggle. We are united in seeking economic justice and building a culture industry that works for us and our communities, not against us. And we are also united because all of our debts are connected. The time is now for we debtors to leverage our collective power.