etoy.HISTORY-FILE: 25-03-10


The Art&Flux research agenda at Sorbonne University in Paris studies the interactions of art and entrepreneurship from an artistic and art historical perspective. For many years, art historian Rose Marie Barrientos has been in contact with etoy agents and written about etoy from the perspective of someone who understands not only the economic realities of art collectives but also the entrepreneurial challenges of an organization that produces art and “inscribes” itself into the economic realms of labor markets, equity markets, and the management of multiple supplier and customer relations. Yann Toma, the other head of the research program is himself artist and entrepreneur of a highly energetic art venture: Ouest-Lumière. Together they have edited a book on the topic and continue to educate graduate students and art critics through lectures and cycles of inspiring conferences throughout France and, recently, New York.

Saline royale de Arc-et-Senans

The event in Arc-et-Senans gathered a group of specialized art critics and scholars and a few practitioners representing art firms (e.g. FIT, BP, etoy, IBK). For etoy.HAEFLIGER who presented TAMATAR and a few of the managerial changes within etoy in 2009, the discussion brought to mind a number of critical questions regarding the artists’ work in twisting organizational structures as used by non-art companies versus the practice of simply using given economic structures. Raphael Cuir contributed to this distinction, which may serve art historical purposes but might be of limited use when strategizing as an art firm.

For etoy the two aspects are both relevant. However, as soon as art is perceived as a process (or service) more than a product, the distinction is a mere shift in emphasis or reception. We’re highlighting both in the following and try to make more sense of the logic of “twisting values” as well as the subversive element when using economic structures to learn and expand etoy’s realm of activity.