Ever since its historical origin in approximately 1800, artistic experience has held itself to be openly opposed to the experience of the tourist. The former would be the prerogative of a free, cultured, creative individual, whereas the second would pertain to an irreflexive, alienated, programmed human being. But once art in the seventies divested itself of the protective shield of aesthetic experience; once the artwork turned from being an object to be contemplated into an experience in itself – yet another lived experience – the old hierarchy between authentic and spurious experiences became difficult to sustain.
With the current general mercantilisation of experience, large-scale art events must ensure they are distinguished from mere tourism. Dominant artistic discourses in the wake of Critical Theory largely fulfil the comforting role of separating the alienated an idiotic from the conscious and critical. Yet to continue to uphold this division in an art world crowded with snobs on tour – ourselves – is starting to become slightly comical. The Museum and Tourism were born at the same time, and have similar historical functions: firstly, to order and unify the dislocated fragments of the world – History, Nature – in a single location; and secondly, the equally impossible task of serving up an illusion of unity in the spectacular staging of History and Nature in spaces discretely conditioned for the traveller. The muzeumizing of the world and its “touristizing” have always been a part of the same process; except that tourism is the “execrable” part of culture and modern art.
What is new is that now, massification and mercantilisation have saturated the discursive devices that held them separate, and starkly unveiled the common root of art and tourism: everything is art when everything is merchandise, just as we are all artists when we are all tourists.
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José Díaz Cuyás. Professor of Art and Art Theory, La Laguna University. His research focuses on the body as a mediator between artistic and visual experience, and on the practical and theoretical consequences of the avant garde movements of the seventies. Recent publications include the coordination of Concreta magazine’s 10th issue on Art and Tourism, and “Movilizados por lo real: turistas, soldados, artistas” (on Marcel Broodthaers) in Arquitectura: lenguajes fílmicos, Tabakalera, 2018. Worked as director of Acto, specific issues of which were dedicated to Duchamp, the Ground, Laughter and Phantoms (http://www.revista-acto.net/). Currently coordinates the research group TURICOM, La experiencia turística: Imagen, Cuerpo y Muerte en la cultura del ocio. ( http://turicom.es/).