Presentation of the international platform ArtLeaks
On the Urgency of Launching the ArtLeaks Gazette
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London
This is part of the 9th Annual Historical Materialism Conference ‘Weighs Like a Nightmare’, London, November 7th-12th, 2012
ArtLeaks is an international platform for cultural workers where instances of abuse, corruption and exploitation are exposed and submitted for public inquiry. ArtLeaks’ mission is to create a space where one could engage directly with actual conditions of cultural work internationally – conditions that affect those working in cultural production as well as those from traditionally creative fields. Furthermore, ArtLeaks is developing in the direction of creating transversal alliances between local activist and cultural workers groups, through which we may collectively tackle repression and inequality.
While building on previous models that emerged in the highly politicized milieus of the 1970s and 1980s, such as the institutional critique practice of left-wing collectives, ArtLeaks seeks to expand the scope of these historical precedents towards international geopolitical engagement. One of the outcomes of ArtLeaks working assemblies and workshops was the establishment of alliances with international groups such as W.A.G.E. (NYC), Occupy Museums (NYC), Arts & Labor (NYC), Haben und Brauchen (Berlin), the Precarious Workers Brigade (London), Carrotworkers’ Collective (London), Critical Practice (London), and The May Congress of Creative Workers (Moscow). It is our strong belief that only an internationally coordinated movement would be able to expose and denounce exploitation and censorship in contemporary culture, and collectively imagine new types of organizational articulations.
For the 2012 Historical Materialism Conference, members of ArtLeaks will present the outcome of their previous working assemblies which took place this year in Berlin, Moscow and Belgrade, and bring up for discussion the urgent need to establish the ArtLeaks Gazette (forthcoming 2013). This regular, online publication aims to be a tool for empowerment in the face of the systemic abuse of cultural workers’ basic labor rights, repression or even blatant censorship, and the growing corporatization of culture that we face today.
After these brief introductions, we will break into four working groups, each focused on a different theme outlined in our Gazette. These will be:
1) Critique of cultural dominance apparatuses
Here we will address methodological issues in analyzing the condition of cultural production and the system that allows for the facile exploitation of the cultural labor force. We will try to relate methodology with concrete case studies of conflicts, exploitation, dissent across various regions of the world, drawing comparisons and providing local context for understanding them.
2) The struggle of narrations
This working group will develop and practice artistic forms of narration which cannot be fully articulated through direct “leaking”. Our focus will be finding new languages for narration of systemic dysfunctions. We expect these elaborations to take different forms of artistic contributions, such as comics, poems, drawings, short stories, librettos, etc.
3) Education and its discontents
The conflicts and struggles in the field of creative education are at the core of determining what kind of subjectivities will shape the culture(s) of future generations. It is important therefore to analyze what is currently at the stake in these specific fields of educational processes and how they are linked with what is happening outside academies and universities. Here we will discuss possible emancipatory approaches to education that are possible today, which resist pressing commercial demands for flexible and “creative” subjectivities. Can we imagine an alternative system of values based of a different meaning of progress?
4) Best practices and useful resources
In this working group we invite people to play out their fantasies of new, just forms of organization of creative life. Developing the tradition of different visionaries of the past we hope will trigger many speculations which might help us collect modest proposals for the future and thus counter the shabby reality of the present. This also includes practices which demonstrate alternative ethical guidelines, and stimulate the creation of a common cultural sphere.
At the end of the working group session, we will present our findings to each other and come together for some final conclusions and future common aims.
Facilitators of the event: Corina L. Apostol, Vlad Morariu
The editorial board for the first issue of the Gazette will consist of Corina L. Apostol, Vladan Jeremić, Vlad Morariu, David Riff and Dmitry Vilensky.
More about the ArtLeaks Gazette: http://art-leaks.org/artleaks-gazette/
More about Historical Materialism: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/about-us
Thanks to Historical Materialism for hosting us!