2014-04-17

Commodity Fetishism


The "fetishism of commodities" is a key notion to understand our times (Capital: Critique of Political Economy, 1867). If capitalism, as Karl Marx wrote, is based on two seemingly separate spheres: that of production and that of market, the "fetishism of commodities" would be, so to say, what links them back. Thus, the magical power which embodies consumer products would not be anything other than the masked spirit of class domination. In fact "commodity fetishism" continues to be today a key element to understand the mechanisms of contemporary consumer societies, in which the separation between these two spheres increases more and more, the propaganda used by the system to hide this reality is more and more subtle, and the market conquers more and more areas which used to belong to the natural life.

In this context a reflection on this notion of "fetishism" is proposed, particularly in regard to the specific world of art. As a matter of fact it is rare that the public has access to the
stage machinery that lies behind the artwork, as it is displayed in the exhibition space. But in fact the artwork participates, in the same way that the rest of commodities, in this phenomenon of "fetishism", what contributes in a significant way, sometimes disproportionately, to the whole ritual.  

Image after historic naturism photo [ua].