Jenny Natusch's Sandgazer

These are crazy days. In a world without reason is it unreasonable to ask could a particle of sand be worth £10, £100, £1000 more? A painting by Gee La Roche fetches a figure that looks like a telephone number, how can this be so? Who, or what, decides? The hand of God? Market forces? Or Rabo Karabekian? 

The amount of human labour-time governs the market value, and hence, the price of most commodities. A ton of sand costs much less than a ton iPhones because of the differing amounts of human labour that goes into the production and making available these two different commodities. But then there are other commodities that do not seem to be bound by this law. The art market seems to be the most egregious example of this. Here not just paintings but almost anything imaginable, even ‘ A Tin of Artist’s S**t’ * can suddenly fetch eye watering sums on the art market. What strange logic determines this? In the history of human culture certain objects have commanded much respect and the great museums and galleries of the world contain some of these fabulous artifacts. 

Every particle of sand is unique and special, a fact only really appreciated when we see them at the micro level. Then suddenly a whole new world is revealed to us through Jenny Natusch’s work, an infinite myriad of different colours, shapes and structures. The art market trades on the belief that there are certain things in the world that are not just special and unique but beyond this they have a certain power to spellbind – in other words they have numinosity. From this flows the belief they have an incredible value making them worthy of a place in a countries national museum of treasured objects. 

The art market exploits this phenomenon, selecting and claiming certain commodities to have numinosity. It then commodifies the supposed intangible power into money. The ever ascending insane dollar values are seen as a natural reflection of the amazing amount of numinous power contained in the pieces. 

Can a humble grain of sand be numinous? Perhaps, but of a different kind from that produced be human hands and minds. Can a humble grain of sand make a sale price that shoots through the ceiling? Certainly, if the art market so desires. 

Oulan Nagardo 

Budapest, July 2018 

*Art work by Piero Manzoni 1961. 

With thanks to Andy Grayson a hero in the struggle for revolutionary art! 

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