ANN: Centre for Art Market Studies – Better than Gold? Art in Storage Spaces of the 21st Century, 17/06/2019, Berlin

Lecture on Monday, 17/06/2019

Dr. Christoph Rausch, Maastricht

Better than Gold? Art in Storage Spaces of the 21st Century

The lecture begins at 6:15 pm and is held in Room A 111, Architecture Building of the TU, Straße des 17. Juni 150/152, 10623 Berlin.

Abstract: Since the last global financial crisis, the art market has exploded. A low-growth global economy, low interest rates, and surging asset prices turn artworks into safe havens for transnationally mobile private wealth. Key to this investment trend are novel types of art storage spaces, including ‘freeports’ where artworks are stored ‘offshore’ and traded tax-free in climate-controlled bunkers. In the last decade, such freeports specializing in art storage and featuring architectural designs meant to impress have opened in Singapore and Luxembourg, for example. There, art becomes more than a store of financial value, however. Rather, new storage practices facilitate the transformation of artworks into liquid financial assets: practices of insuring, collateralizing, and securitizing art in storage effectively financialize art through storage.
Apart from commercial art storage facilities functioning as freeports and financial trading platforms, there are other storage spaces now catering to the changing demands of art collectors. For instance, the Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam currently builds a depot called “collectiegebouw”, which it advertises as “the art storage facility that is fully accessible to the public.” There, the museum’s complete collection will be on view. At the same time, the public institution will rent out storage and sell collection care services to private collectors.
In my talk, I introduce the emergence of such new types of art storage spaces and present my research into how art is currently financialized in and through storage. Specifically, I am interested in the effects of globally contested practices of storing and financializing art on public and private relations between art and finance. For example, I ask how the financialization of art in storage problematizes established norms and forms of art ownership and display. If new economies of enrichment and art storage practices trigger the speculation with art as an alternative asset class, what do the resulting financial uncertainties and risks mean for the values of art?
Dr. Christoph Rausch is assistant professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. He is co-founding steering committee member of the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage, which also constitutes the interdisciplinary institutional context for his research. Rausch obtained his PhD with a study based on multi-sited anthropological fieldwork of the preservation of colonial and post-colonial modern architecture on the African continent (published as Global Heritage Assemblages: Development and Modern Architecture in Africa. Routledge, 2016). His current research is on the emergence and proliferation of new types of art storage spaces and their implications for the changing relations between art and finance. Rausch was a visiting researcher at the University of California, Berkeley and a guest scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle. During the academic year 2019/2020, he is visiting researcher at the Forum Kunst und Markt / Centre for Art Market Studies at TU Berlin. In the fall semester of the academic year 2020/2021, Rausch will be visiting research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne.