Curator & Art
Eight years ago I decided to study a major in Art History, and I still remember perfectly the face of everyone that heard me say, with a delightful smile, what I chose to study. “Art History? You can’t do anything with it, right?” or “Is that even useful?” or, and this one is my favorite, “Oh, so you’re a painter!”. No sir, an art historian doesn’t paint, neither sculpt, she doesn’t have to be good at drawing squiggles because… Surprise! An art historian is not an artist (of course there are some who are, but even a lawyer or any other professional could have an artistic skill). Art historians study art and everything that comes with it: exhibitions, assessments, reviews about art and artists, cultural management, and a long list of other tasks that will surely surprise you, but… wait a second. There are majors where you can only ‘be just one thing’ and then there’s art history where you cover a wider range of professions… Why is that there are no jobs for them? Easy my friends: while a doctor, for example, is necessary and he’s well respected in society (thank god, because this country could get worse), the thing changes when we talk about culture. Even though it is true that there are people who treasure it deeply, there is a high standard group who thinks like this: “Culture… for what? Who cares about Michelangelo? Who cares about the writer of Don Quixote, or about the representatives of Baroque art?”. If there is someone that doesn’t believe the existence of this group, I will remind you about this article posted in El País newspaper which title was: “Seven out of ten Spanish people ‘never’ go to a museum or a library” (theaters and cinemas too, probably). Disturbing, but that is not our only problem.
I clearly remember when one of my professors during our sophomore year told us that only a 3% of all of us will success in having a career in art. That meant that only nine people in that current sophomore year would get to work in what they loved. Imagine the disconsolately face of everyone there. There were people who tried to take it in a funny way since that was our only way to cope with the things we’ve been hearing since we chose to study that major: “if you study Art History you’re going to starve” (and you can say the same thing about other majors which are stigmatized). That’s sad! We are the second country in Europe with more professionals dedicated to the cultural industry, right before Luxembourg. However, after ‘herculean’ efforts to get just an opportunity to work in what we prepared for, and getting no results, many of us are forced to immigrate to another country. What is the problem? We are in a country with a huge cultural heritage and… aren’t’ there opportunities to work in that industry? (worthy. Please). The problem is not the lack of opportunities, neither the existent job insecurity, but the carelessness of whoever is supposed to change all of this (I’m guessing I don’t have to specify about who I am talking about).
We’ve saved so much in education; We’ve become millionaires in ignorance – Mafalda.
To a lot of people culture means nothing, while for me it is everything. I firmly believe in its value and its capability to enrich humans in every possible way. To me it feels inconceivable that nobody teaches young children how to look at a painting, or how to feel passionate about literature or theater. Also, our cultural taxes are outrageous (it does not make it easy to do any of those things), and the ignorance and sloppiness that comes with something that instead of being secondary should be primordial to its country: its culture and the education of those who live there (Wow, what an utopian society).
A part of being a delightful aesthetic, Art is, without a doubt, the biggest and most perfect heritage of who we were and who we are, and it represents human’s claim to achieve its immortality through its creations. Also Art is the main witness of our successes and our failures. Then, shouldn’t we know about it and pass it on? I know there is a tendency to hide things we don’t want anyone to know, and that makes it easier to manipulate the ignorant rather than the one with criteria and concerns, but that doesn’t mean that the ones who work in the cultural industry should give up or shut up when we know all of these.
Personally, I know it is difficult. I am aware of the nepotism, of the painful labor situation, of all the times that I just want to give up; but I also know that Art History has filled me with satisfaction, and that if I had the chance, I would study it again. To the many people who want us to surrender, I will not make it easy for them.
Translated by: Vicky Mancebo
You can read this in spanish here