Tag Archives: creative workers

On the Urgency of Launching the ArtLeaks Gazette (London)

Presentation of the international platform ArtLeaks
On the Urgency of Launching the ArtLeaks Gazette

Wednesday, 7 November 2012
19:00-22:00
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!

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Filed under censorship, contemporary art, international affairs

May Day Congress-Commune of Creative Workers (Moscow)

First Open 48-Hour May Day Congress-Commune of Creative Workers. Moscow, April 29–30, 2010

Over the course of the two days, artists, researchers, translators, teachers, curators, union activists, journalists, writers and musicians from all over Russia will take part in round-table discussions, talk-marathons, poetry readings, and concerts. In recent years, the participants have been involved in many artistic and research initiatives that address the social and economic situation of creative workers in contemporary Russian society.

As neoliberalism continues to establish its hold, its ugly manifestations have become a daily reality for all of us. Not only have exploitation and lack of freedom taken on increasingly elaborate forms, but the very resourcefulness and creative potential of artists and researchers are also appropriated and capitalized by employers. It is against this backdrop that the issues raised by the phenomenon of precarious labor have become ever more pressing. It is our conviction that a reassessment of the precarious worker’s position in today’s economic structure calls for joint action in search of a new cultural space and an alternative educational platform outside of and beyond the fraudulent logic of the neoliberal market economy. Alongside the struggle against injustice at the workplace, collective defense of rights within militant trade unions, and street politics, we are now making another crucial step towards a re-examination of our position and, therefore, towards change.

he May Congress builds on and develops the experience of such earlier projects as Drift. Narvskaya Zastava (St. Petersburg—Moscow, 2004–2005), Self-Education(s) (exhibition, Moscow, 2006), 68.08. Street Politics (exhibition, Moscow, 2008), and Leftist Art. Leftist History. Leftist Philosophy. Leftist Poetry (seminar, Nizhny Novgorod, 2009).

The Congress will be organized around two main thematic clusters: LABOR and SELF-ORGANIZATION. The third, practice-oriented section of the congress will take place on the morning of May 1, International Workers’ Day, which celebrates unity and solidarity. Congress participants will take to the streets of Moscow to form their own joyful and creative column.

The Congress will provide modest dorm-like accommodations for its participants on the premises of Proekt-Fabrika (Moscow, Perevedenovsky pereulok, 18).

Scheduled participants/projects: Vpered Socialist Movement; Chto Delat; Translit Almanac; Seminar Group; Street University; From Community to Union; Educational Film Group; Megazine.Biz; Kinote.Info; Keti Chukhrov/Mobile Theater of the Communist; Free Marxist Press; Liberated Marxist Food; Here and Everywhere Studio; Everything That’s Filmed; Institute for Collective Action; Verkhotura and Friends.

You can read texts that have inspired congress participants here (in Russian and English).

If you wish to make a donation to the congress, you may do so in the following ways:

US Dollars: Alfa-Bank Account No. 40817840704190003607
Euros: Alfa-Bank Account No. 40817978104980006548
Rubles:
Yandex Money Account No. 41001516866888

For more information, write to: may-congress@yandex.ru

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Filed under activism, alternative education, contemporary art, critical thought, open letters, manifestos, appeals, Russian society

Blue-Collar Blues (Tallinn)

Blue-Collar Blues

Kunsthalle Tallinn & Gallery of Kunsthalle
December 22, 2009 – January 31, 2010

Exhibition opening: MONDAY, December 21 at 6 pm
Performing at the opening: Paul Cole & The Great Outdoors!!!

Artists: Art Center for Dismissed Employees, Francis Alÿs, Fahim Amir & Krõõt Juurak, Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler, Dénes Farkas, Vladan Jeremić & Rena Rädle, Johnson ja Johnson, Olga Jürgenson, Kennedy Browne, Tellervo Kalleinen & Oliver Kochta, Marge Monko, Eléonore de Montesquiou , Santiago Sierra
Curator: Anders Härm

Give me a job, give me security
give me a chance to survive
I’m just a poor soul in the unemployment line
my god, I’m hardly alive

Styx, “Blue-Collar Man” (Long Nights), 1977

The direct and most immediate motivation for this exhibition is the new “more flexible” Employment Contracts Act that came into force on July 1st of this year, and the disputes revolving around it for the past two years. In the middle of November, the number of unemployed in the country with 1.3 million inhabitants rose above 100,000. At the same time, this law is a result of large-scale global processes, a symptom of systemic global neoliberalization. These processes, which have lasted for the last half century and are the focus of this exhibition, have resulted in changes in work relations, the nature of production and salaried labor as well as the economy as a whole. Labor issues affect everyone – if only indirectly – and therefore a direct relationship exists with them (as opposed to global cash flow movements or the real estate bubble related thereto). This is a topic in which class conflict break through the post-political haze and is articulated fervently, quite uncharacteristically of the administrative-political era. This is also occurring with increasing momentum in Estonia, where we are slowly overcoming the post-Soviet false shame related to trade unions, workers’ rights, etc. The time is ripe to talk about these topics! It’s time for Blue-Collar Blues.

Through symbolic gestures, direct actions, as well as relational projects, the Blue-Collar Blues exhibition attempts to give meaning to labor issues at a time that can rightfully be called global  capitalism’s greatest crisis. In the course of 20 years, we have become aware that we live in a world where attempts at governance are based on a combination of global “free market” dictatorship and neoliberalism as the only possible philosophy of life, where democracy has just become a hollow colloquial phrase. This is a world, where, on the one hand, a fatal end is predicted for work, while an attempt is being made to show the uncertainty and instability of the labor market as a positive challenge. This is a world where initiative and business are equated. Creativity is one of the favorite expressions of this new mutation of capitalism, which is required under conditions where any and all creativity is precluded. This is a world where every employment relationship may develop into something resembling slavery. This is capitalism without part-time work opportunities or social guarantees, where the employer’s expenditures for the workers are minimal, while the profits are maximal. This is a world that, despite resounding slogans and promises, has arrived at the most serious crisis of its existence.

Since labor issues are universal in some sense, being densely integrated under conditions of globalization, the geographic range of this exhibition is also broad, reaching from Latin America to Eastern Europe and from the Balkans to the Nordic countries. Naturally, those participating in the exhibition include great international names like Francis Alÿs and Santiago Sierra, Oliver Ressler and Kennedy Browne, as well as a large number of younger Estonian artists, whose works deal with these topics. All the Estonian artists are producing new works especially for this exhibition, which are motivated by local issues. The exhibition’s focus is on labor relations, the psychological and social changes caused by the changes in these relations, and the more general situation of workers under conditions of neoliberal capitalism.

Several additional events will also take place at the Kunsthalle during the exhibition. On Saturday, January 16th at 9 pm, a performance by Krõõt Juurak and Fahim Amir, entitled Autodomestication, will take place, which deals with the situation of “creative workers” in the labor market. Since Estonian trade unions, politicians and social scientists are involved in the exhibition project, in order to try and better understand labor issues, a seminar entitled “The Position of the Citizens in Labor Relations” will take place at the Kunsthalle on Friday, January 22nd at 12 noon. The main participants are political scientist Oudekki Loone and sociologist Marju Lauristin. The panelists include Harri Taliga, Tarmo Kriis, Eiki Nestor, Raul Eamets, Allar Jõks, and others. Within the framework of the exhibition, another event in the Porotfolio Café series will take on Saturday, January 30th at 12 noon, in which art students will be offered free consultations and feedback from international curators, and some of the artists that are participating in the exhibitions, such as Eleonore de Montesquiou, Tellervo and Oliver Kalleinen, as well as from older colleagues and Estonian specialists.

Press release prepared by:
Anders Härm
More information:
anders@kunstihoone.ee
www.kunstihoone.ee

We express our thanks to the following: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Center for Contemporary Art, Estonia, Art Museum of Estonia, Austrian Embassy in Tallinn, Irish Arts Council, Irish Embassy in Tallinn, Annemarie Reichen and the Peter Kilchmann Gallery in Zurich, Elena Crippa and Lisson Gallery in London, FRAME, Caoimhin Corrigan, Maria-Kristiina Soomre, Marko Stamenkovic.

Seminar is supported by  Open Estonia Foundation

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