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ArtLeaks Gazette #5 Launch Event at S.a.L.E. Docks (Venice, Italy)

May 7, 2019

We are very happy and proud to announce the release of our latest issue of the ArtLeaks Gazette, entitled ‘Patriarchy Over & Out. Discourse Made Manifest’. 

Editors (Corina L. Apostol, Vladan Jeremic and Rena Raedle) and contributors will present the Gazette during a public discussion at S.a.L.E. Docks (Dorsoduro 265, 30123 Venice, Italy) from 3-5 PM on Friday, May 10th, 2019. 

S.a.L.E. Docks is located: Near Punta della Dogana, in Dorsoduro.

How to get there : Actv line 1 (stop: Salute), Actv lines 2, 5.1, 5,2, 6.1, 6.2, (stop: Zattere), Actv lines 5.1, 5,2 (stop: Spirito Santo). Private dock nearby.

The Gazette brings together contributions that analyze concrete practices and campaigns, and which engage theoretically and intersectionally with relevant issues related to queer, trans, feminist, first nations, racial, and economic justice. The diverse contributions in this issue – including poetry, petitions, lyrics, visual art, activism, manifestoes, and critical essays – confront nationalist discourses, colonial violences, orthodox regimes, misogynist cultural and political programs, crises of identity politics, and the remaining legacies of white supremacy, considering not only overall conditions in the artworld but also local specificities. While the contributions are diverse in their political and cultural scope, their common target remains toxic patriarchy in all its nefarious manifestations. The writers, musicians, artists, activists, filmmakers, and poets featured in this issue envision and demand a different reality and future. To summon Planningtorock’s words from All Love’s Legal (2014): ‘I don’t want to wait, patriarchal life, you’re out of date.’

The gazette includes contributions by: Planningtorock, Judith Goldman, Susanne Sachsee, Ashon Crawley, Kim Bode, Magdalena Zurawski, Nitasha Dhillon, Ana Grujić, Bridget Daria O’ Neill, Mickey Harmon, Joshua Lam, Jasmina Tumbas, Divya Victor, Scene & Heard, Nosotras Proponemos, Erika Balsom & Elena Gorfinkel, Shanté Paradigm Smalls, We are sick of it, Imani Henry, Betty Yu, Mimi Thi Nguyen, Paris Henderson, Boineelo Cassandra Mouse, Amanda Fayant, Van Tran Nguyen, Selma Banich, Nina Gojić, Ena Jurov & Tajana Josimović, Fred Moten & Corina L. Apostol, LaKisha Simmons, Matt Applegate & Andrew Culp, Shannon Woodcock, Chiara Bonfiglioli, Danai Anagnostou, Katja Kobolt & Anna Ehrenstein, Alyssa Schwendener, Tanya Loughead, Mima Simić

Editorial and layout: Corina L. Apostol, Rena&Vladan, with guest editor Jasmina Tumbas

More discussions and workshops will be announced in the near future.

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More information about the exhibition Oceans of People at S.a.L.E Docs:

“OCEANS OF PEOPLE, The project analyzes the impact that the tourist industry has on Barcelona and Venice, pointing out common issues and facing under various points of view the different effects. The narrator’s voice belongs to the collectives, committees, and associations that are struggling to defend their environment and common goods, criticizing the prevalent model of touristic development which is threatening the survival of these two cities of heritage. Through photos, posters, videos and interactive installations, tourists and citizens are invited to think about how their behaviors and daily actions can influence these processes of cultural and urban decay. There are also other consequent alarming phenomena to deal with, such as gentrification, the impact of cruise ships and its masses of tourists, the transformation of commercial activities and the consequent loss of local traditions. The aim is to face the values of these endangered heritages, trying to empower the collective denunciation reaction and to push for the administration’s intervention.”

Connect with us:  art-leaks.org/ | Instagram @artsleaks | Facebook: @ArtLeaks | Twitter: @Art_Leaks

 

ArtLeaks Gazette #5: Patriarchy Over & Out. Discourse Made Manifest now online!

April 29, 2019

Cover_Page_ALG#5

We are very happy and proud to announce the release of our latest issue of the ArtLeaks Gazette, entitled “Patriarchy Over & Out. Discourse Made Manifest”

ArtLeaks Gazette #5: “Patriarchy Over & Out. Discourse Made Manifest” brings together contributions that analyze concrete practices and campaigns, and which engage theoretically and intersectionally with relevant issues related to queer, trans, feminist, first nations, racial, and economic justice. The diverse contributions in this issue – including poetry, petitions, lyrics, visual art, activism, manifestoes, and critical essays – confront nationalist discourses, colonial violences, orthodox regimes, misogynist cultural and political programs, crises of identity politics, and the remaining legacies of white supremacy, considering not only overall conditions in the artworld but also local specificities. While the contributions are diverse in their political and cultural scope, their common target remains toxic patriarchy in all its nefarious manifestations. The writers, musicians, artists, activists, filmmakers, and poets featured in this issue envision and demand a different reality and future. To summon Planningtorock’s words from All Love’s Legal (2014): “I don’t want to wait, patriarchal life, you’re out of date.”

The gazette is freely available to read here:

We want to thank Planningtorock for granting us permission to use the title of their 2014 song, “Patriarchy Over & Out,” as the main theme of ALG#5, and Paris Henderson, for granting us permission to use one of his artworks on the cover

The online gazette is published under the Creative Commons attribution-noncommercial-share alike if not marked differently in the specific contributions, and the materials are offered for translation in any languages to any interested party. Limited printed copies are available. ALG#5 editorial encourages anyone who would like to support us to print smaller print runs of ALG#5. ArtLeaks encourages contributors to be an active part of spreading the ALG by hosting it on their site and forwarding it on to their networks.

The gazette includes contributions by: Planningtorock, Judith Goldman, Susanne Sachsee, Ashon Crawley, Kim Bode, Magdalena Zurawski, Nitasha Dhillon, Ana Grujić, Bridget Daria O’ Neill, Mickey Harmon, Joshua Lam, Jasmina Tumbas, Divya Victor, Scene & Heard, Nosotras Proponemos, Erika Balsom & Elena Gorfinkel, Shanté Paradigm Smalls, We are sick of it, Imani Henry, Betty Yu, Mimi Thi Nguyen, Paris Henderson, Boineelo Cassandra Mouse, Amanda Fayant, Van Tran Nguyen, Selma Banich, Nina Gojić, Ena Jurov & Tajana Josimović, Fred Moten & Corina L. Apostol, LaKisha Simmons, Matt Applegate & Andrew Culp, Shannon Woodcock, Chiara Bonfiglioli, Danai Anagnostou, Katja Kobolt & Anna Ehrenstein, Alyssa Schwendener, Tanya Loughead, Mima Simić

Editorial and layout: Corina L. Apostol, Rena&Vladan, with guest editor Jasmina Tumbas

Title page illustration: Paris Henderson

More discussions and workshops will be announced in the near future. If you would like to host one please send us an email at artsleaks@gmail.com. 

ART WORKERS WON’T KISS ASS AND EAT FLOWERS: A documentation on the art workers’ mobilizations (Galerie La Box, Bourges, France)

March 28, 2019

//EN

A documentation on the actions of ArtLeaks , Art Workers’ Coalition, Economie solidaire de l’art, Front des artistes plasticiens, Global Ultra Luxury Faction, Guerrilla Girls, Haben und Brauchen, Precarious Workers Brigade, KURS, Temporary Services, Working Artists and the Greater Economy

Exhibition curated by Frédéric Herbin

In 1969, the creation of the Art Workers Coalition was based on the criticism of an art world which concentrated the powers in the hands of the few to the detriment of workers who formed its base. Fifty years later, this criticism remains more relevant than ever before, while the list of collectives that have taken it continues to grow. As this story unfolds, multiple images of the activism appear reversing the worn-out figures of the individual creator, detached from material conditions or committed heroes. The contents and forms of these mobilizations are the focus this exhibition.

The economic issue is obviously central and that of remuneration regularly asked. During the last two decades, several analyses of the evolution of capitalism have nevertheless made the portrait of the artist as champion of flexibility and intermittent work (1). While workers are struggling to improve the material conditions imposed on them, the artist critique would demand creative autonomy and freedom that would be widespread in all sectors of society (2). This strict sharing of political demands between, on the one hand, the demands for emancipation, the extension of individual liberties and, on the other hand, those which relate to the improvement of the material conditions of life and work, has helped to keep the struggles we chose to exhibit in the dark. In these struggles the question of work in the artistic field seems more like a platform where the different demands come together. In addition to the directly targeted material conditions, this question opens broadly on both feminist and postcolonial issues, raising, from the beginning, the problems of access and wage discrimination or, more recently, that of the international division of labor. Thus by calling into question all the links in the art chain, the activism of many collectives is fully part of a history of institutional critique that continues to be written.

Between the end of the 1960s and today, the documented modes of action make it possible to emphasize constants, such as the use of protest occupations, the production of images with instantaneous impact or the edition of various textual supports to call attention and inform.

They also show the renewal of means at the time of video projections and e-blasts spread on the web. This corpus of visual forms, whose status is sometimes difficult to determine, questions the link between art and activism. The choice of direct action corresponds poorly to an authoritative conception and history of artistic activity as the production of aesthetic forms legitimized by the actors of the art world. This choice often involves the use of inexpensive materials, easily transportable and quickly spread. We observe thenceforth how the repertoires of collective actions are easily shared from one field of contestation to another, upsetting the idea that the artistic domain could be separated.
The bias to include a historical perspective in the exhibition supports these facts by inscribing the art workers’ mobilizations in the contexts that develop around the 1968 uprisings, then in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. The imagined device is also an operational space from which information can be disseminated. The logic of the DIY Do it for yourself that feeds the forms created for the mobilizations is found here fully in the scenography and in the will to offer visitors a space to assemble its own fanzine from those collected.

We thank all the collectives for the documents they sent us and Setare Arashloo and The Illuminator.


(1) Pierre-Michel Menger, Portrait de l’artiste en travailleur. Métamorphoses du capitalisme, Paris, Editions du Seuil, La République des Idées, 2002. In English see also Artists as workers: Theoretical and methodological challenges, Poetics, Volume 28, Issue 4, February 2001, p. 241-254.
(2) Luc Boltanski, Eve Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism, London, New York, Verso, 2005.

For more information please follow this link.

 

//FR

Une documentation sur les actions de ArtLeaks ; Art Workers’ Coalition ; Économie solidaire de l’art ; Front des artistes plasticiens ; Global Ultra Luxury Faction ; Guerrilla Girls ; Haben und Brauchen ; Precarious Workers Brigade ; KURS ; Temporary Services ; Working Artists and a Greater Economy

Exposition proposée par Frédéric Herbin

En 1969, la création de l’Art Workers’ Coalition reposait sur la critique du fonctionnement d’un monde de l’art qui concentrait les pouvoirs dans les mains de quelques-uns au détriment des travailleur·euse·s qui en étaient à la base. Cinquante ans plus tard, cette critique reste plus que jamais d‘actualité alors que la liste des collectifs qui l’ont portée ne cesse de s’allonger. Au fil de cette histoire se dessinent des images plurielles de l’activisme à rebours des figures éculées du créateur individuel, détaché des conditions matérielles ou héros engagé. C’est aux contenus et aux formes de ces mobilisations que cette exposition s’intéresse.

La question économique y est évidemment centrale et celle de la rémunération  régulièrement posée. Pendant les deux dernières décennies, plusieurs analyses des évolutions du capitalisme ont pourtant fait le « portrait de l’artiste » en champion de la flexibilité et du travail intermittent 1. Tandis que les ouvrier·ère·s luttent pour l’amélioration des conditions matérielles qui leurs sont imposées, la « critique artiste » réclamerait une autonomie et une liberté créatrices appelées à être généralisées dans tous les secteurs de la société 2. Ce partage strict des revendications politiques entre, d’une part, les demandes d’émancipation, d’extension des libertés individuelles et, d’autre part, celles qui touchent à l’amélioration des conditions matérielles collectives de vie et de travail, a contribué à maintenir dans l’ombre les luttes que nous avons choisi d’exposer. La question du travail dans le domaine artistique y apparaît davantage comme une plateforme où les différentes revendications se rejoignent. Outre les conditions matérielles directement ciblées, cette question ouvre largement sur les problématiques autant féministes que postcoloniales, en soulevant, depuis le début les problèmes des discriminations d’accès et de salaires ou, plus récemment, celui de la division internationale du travail. En mettant ainsi en cause l’ensemble des maillons de la chaîne de l’art, le militantisme de nombreux collectifs participe pleinement d’une histoire de la critique institutionnelle qui continue de s’écrire.

Entre la fin des années 1960 et aujourd’hui, les modes d’action documentés permettent de souligner des constantes, telles que le recours à la manifestation, la production d’images à portée immédiate ou l’édition de divers supports textuels pour interpeller et informer. Ils montrent également le renouvellement des moyens à l’heure des projections vidéo et des « e-blasts » diffusés sur la toile. Ce corpus de formes visuelles, dont le statut est parfois difficile à déterminer, interroge l’articulation entre art et militantisme. Le choix de l’action directe correspond mal à une conception et une histoire autorisées de l’activité artistique comme production de formes esthétiques légitimées par les acteurs du monde l’art. Ce choix implique souvent l’utilisation de matériaux peu coûteux, facilement transportables et rapidement diffusables. On observe dès lors comment les répertoires d’actions collectives se partagent aisément d’un champ de la contestation à un autre, bousculant l’idée que le domaine artistique pourrait être séparé.

Nous remercions l’ensemble des collectifs pour les documents qu’ils nous ont transmis ainsi que Setare Arashloo et The Illuminator.

1 Pierre-Michel Menger, Portrait de l’artiste en travailleur. Métamorphoses du capitalisme, Paris, Editions du Seuil, La République des Idées, 2002.
2 Luc Boltanski, Eve Chiapello, Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme, Paris, Editions Gallimard, 1999.

Alina Popa // Disease As an Aesthetic Project

February 10, 2019
Alina_Popa_ArtLeaks-Belgrade-2012

Alina Popa (right) speaking at the ArtLeaks Assembly in Belgrade, 2012

We are deeply saddened because our dear colleague Alina Popa, an artist from Romania who moved between choreography, theory, and contemporary art, and was a co-founder of ArtLeaks, passed away on February 1. In her memory, we are re-publishing her last text and drawings. 

________________________________________________________________________

Spirula and the Thing

When something intimately changes your body, your possibilities to move, your dynamic with the outer world, your identity for many people, your limits as to what you can bear, that thing forces you into inner transformation. I hate the thing, I love the thing. The thing forces me over my edges, I cannot squeeze it out of me, I cannot directly influence it, I can only take it as a challenge to my rational mind, to what I have been, to my own limitations. It has grown more than I have ever thought it could. It became big and ugly and part of me. I have to live and love myself with my monster. It is a visual enormity. I am to myself a visual enormity. I prefer to close my eyes.

This is not anymore a social game, it’s within me. It forces me to be real, to be like an unwanted Star Trek character. To walk like an animal. To walk slowly, like an animal. To transform my showers into psychological thresholds. To be deformed, asymmetrical, slow and clumsy, to eat in bed. To stay in bed. To not move, to stay only on one side, in bed, to struggle to turn. It pulls me to the ground, my leg heavy with it in it. My left leg doubled, tripled and more. I am a monster. I am a visual enormity. I breathe, I live, and I sometimes go through space.

It often feels that the struggle is not with a disease but between the huge thing on my left thigh and my mind. It plays with the limits of what I can bear myself to be. What have I become? How did I transform? It keeps me from moving freely. It numbs my hopes, it freezes my imagination. I can just be freer inside to allow myself to dare the impossible. Every time I am embodying a virtual walk through a forest I am calling the impossible. To toy with the possible so that without you noticing you are doing the impossible. It makes me find ways to keep myself from judging myself the moment I step over the border. I need to distract myself exactly the moment I step into the fantastical. If I succeed the fantastical is normal and real. And I can maybe walk a little bit faster.

I cry, I shout, I refuse to live in fear. I collapse with fever, fear has overtaken me, the thing laughs at my weakness. I am still here. I wake up in the night, I get up and sit on the side of the bed. It’s hard to sit. I am too asymmetrical. I despair. I refuse to live in fear. I want the thing to disappear, to stop harassing me. I have no break from it. I have no break from me. Who am I? I dreamed I was wearing the nicest, most pleasant and comfortable outfit and when I looked into the mirror, a monster head showed itself under my beautiful hoodie. I prayed to be delivered from this deformity but while praying my face kept changing, monstrous. Form didn’t want to settle on my face. I was surface, without stability. It’s past midnight. I want to put an end to my nightmare. I refuse to live in fear. I refuse to be obsessed with the thing in my leg. I want to get it over with myself. Terminate. I don’t know how. I only have natural supplements on my table. I despair. In one moment I realize I may not be able to escape, but I choose to live without fear, under any circumstances. My dear thing, I am looking at you from above.

I don’t know if you learn more by exploring the outside but I am confined to the inside. I re-make the world in my bed. I draw what I see, what I am more tempted to look at, my leg. The world is my leg. The world is sheer deformity. It grows scarier than I thought it could. Looking into this world, with which I identify, I am appalled. I fear. And I keep looking, it’s my world. I start to explore it. I am representing it, drawing my fear, my obsession, my world. I am drawing the bandages on the holes on the thing on my leg. For every point I make a cell dies. I become obsessive about points. The tumor replies with needles. It wants more, more attention. You cannot make me fear, not now, you are my world. The needles I feel are like rain, every drop brings a sensation. I like this rain, it’s warm. This is a good day.

It’s like a moon of a distant planet. It has craters and a surface between skin and stone, a stone on a windy shore changing shape in a circular manner. It spurts thoughts, it spits ideas, it exhausts me. It tells me to be wild. Find snow, undress, throw yourself, put the thing in snow, breath, enjoy, this is better than a hospital bed. There is no snow but I remember the shiny white surface where you can look and look, lose your mind to beauty. You have to do what it says, otherwise, it grows bigger and soon you will be only its satellite. I want to gravitate around it, what if it is really alien, planet, biology, me, you, carbon compounds or none. Doctor, I would like you to perform a planectomy on my leg. I promise I am a satellite. I will revolve. We will shape the space.

Spirula and Medicine

They tell me to go home and wait for my end. I fear going back home, jumping into the image they created for me. I am on the bed barely breathing. I deform it, the image, it’s the struggle between realities, they want to impose theirs because otherwise, their ground becomes cracked. It’s easier to sacrifice a human than to shift a bit your paradigm. We know, human doctors think they know, they go to bed assured that I am a piece of meat. They made a script, imposed it on people like me, we have proof, we know better. Reality follows the script if it is believed and they spent centuries to impose it on us. My reality just performed a triangle choke on theirs. I am home, at Sana’s, on the bed, red cheeks and all, playing with my cats. I am alive.

I have a secret. Whatever horrible thought comes to me, from the planet within, or who knows from where I embrace it. Come little dark thought, expand, I want to know why you are here. I will manipulate you and you will manipulate me and in the end, you will be no more. Many thoughts or states sublimated within me during these months.

When I am agitated during the night, I am pretending this uncontrollable state is my will. I perform my states, I get out of bed and I let the restlessness take over. I am punching the air, I am raging like a wild animal.

Realization: I have never trusted my body and its responses. We are taught so by education. Fever needs to be kept at bay, symptoms have to be read by specialists, you don’t own your body, it is like a foreign coat you have to take care of and beware of it, look for signs, gather evidence. You are outside of your body, you analyze it scientifically but what does this mean. It means that you are placing it in the scripts written by strangers who are afraid of the wonder of reality and want to restrict its vastness to a few predictable scenarios.

The body is real but what we think about it is fiction. Medical views are the fiction imposed on us by modernity and capitalism. This is a consensus fiction. How you regard the body, how you name, determines how you act upon it and also how it acts back. We are free, and the body actually calls for individual fictions, or for fictions that give it trust and freedom. Perspective creates reality. To change the standard perspective is almost impossible. It cannot be done mentally, it needs different practices – to practice ways to interact with the world that give back reality its multiplicity. We actually don’t truly interact with the world anymore. That is because we know too well the practices that are possible, and so they will give back the same outcomes. The body is as alien as the world. And we have to embrace its strangeness. Especially when we need reality to be crazy when we are ill with no chance at survival from the standard perspective. I don’t want my reality normal. I need it off the hook.

Spirula and its Symptoms

What is a symptom?

Healing is a poem written with the language of symptoms.

Sometimes the symptoms require amplification, spatially, inside or outside the body, ignoring, fighting, acceptance by subjective study, transformation by imagination – metaphorization, deepening of their perception until they become something else, so abstract that they lose any conventional signification, and there are many other possible operations that one can perform upon symptoms. They can be danced, drawn, etc., or even just imagined in a physically passive way. There is also a rhythm of these operations upon the symptoms that is very individual for every person and even every period in someone’s life. Healing is both the operation and the rhythm of the change of these operations. The rhythm is energy, life, it is what cannot yet be understood, that is why there cannot be any previous schedule, meaning or explanation. The poem.

The body calls for a different language. You have to enter the unknown. It cries out loud through symptoms that it needs to become poetry not theory. This is a sign of intelligence of the soul.

Sensations – we feel them in one place but we can move them, expand them, shrink them, keep them in movement project them outside the body make them circulate part of a bigger language. This elasticity of sensations, discomfort or pain sets the poetry in motion – it messes up with the consensus language of the body.
I hate that the doctors nullify my poem with their order words.

Healing is an alchemical process.

Moving, reinterpreting, re-symbolizing.

The body is abstract. It occupies more space than where it finds itself. That is why it can transform its anatomy into the jungle.

I grew a jungle on my body to handle my symptoms. I am delegating the care for my body to an imaginary world.

I have a volcano in my leg, a raging wild animal rising from the void in my lung, a rainforest amplifying my short breath, a wolf in my consciousness, a wild pig scuffing out the root node in my chest, a sloth calming the restlessness of my heart, a jaguar spirit coming to get me, to make me a free spirit, and I am flying over reality, jungled up, towards life or maybe towards death.

Spirula and Experience

The first who claims to be actually able to simulate crossing of edges is the mind. Ideas tell you that you have done it or are about, if you just dare to circle a bit more in the loop of thinking. Just that the spiral never ends and one day you find yourself burned out in bed, being called by the body to the reality of the ideas you perhaps liked to fancy. I mean the alien, the radically unknown, the limits of experience, the performance as life, life as art… The mind already replies aggressively that maybe you are in a loop with this as well but I reply that now my actions can take me from death back into life, that the edge is now fully lived.

If you are lucky to have escaped a disease conventionally you can go back to the radicality of thought as if nothing happened. Some may experience a new surge of life. Almost everyone wants to change, especially if the threat is big enough. When my existence has been put at risk thought felt deeply humiliated, it stopped. For days I have been just feeling that I exist and that is my protection like a lucid breath inhaled and exhaled by heart.

The diagnosis triggered two opposite forces: great fear and great courage – one that would overcome the greatness of the fear. In the great fear is a constellation of white coat talk, alarmed best friends, and all Western conventionality regarding to how you treat something for which medicine has no promise. Already in doing the list a friend shouts in my head that I was jumping to conclusions that there was no promise. I shout back, shut up because I’ve been through the vicious circle of guilt too many times. And I know it’s not a real friend, it’s not even the friend, it’s me performing my own enemy as my well-meaning friend. I like enemies if they are like the Amazonian figures of enemies – the aliens whose perspectives I can eat to become what I could never alone become. In the great courage are my dreams, my energy, a deep inner feeling of abandoning myself to the unknown, my lover, my cats, my new friends and therapists in Vienna and Portland, Brazilian shamans, other crazy sick people, aunt Sana, the smell of the forest, the speed of skiing, all my enhanced experiences of nature, a butterfly on my hand for more than one hour, deers, jungle sounds, the feeling of the ocean, warmth in general, and I cannot but artificially close the enumeration.

Drawings, with eyes closed, notebook on the chest:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/eQqnHHdDer94vB2k6

Open letter of the art milieu of Poland concerning launching a competition for the post of director of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art in Krakow and future retaining of the institution within structures of Municipal Galleries

February 3, 2019

/EN

Dear Mr. Minister,

As an art milieu taking an active part in the workings of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art in Krakow, we feel compelled to communicate our concern regarding plans for the restructuring of the above-mentioned institution.

On the 21st of January 2019, the Mayor of the City of Krakow, Prof. Jacek Majchrowski, requested your consent to derogate from the obligation to organise a competition for the post of director of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art. The Mayor also informed the general public about his plans for merging the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery and the MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow. The first step in this process would be, according to the Mayor’s proposal, appointing the recent director of the MOCAK a director of both institutions.

We are equally alarmed by the Mayor’s plans to entrust the management of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art to a person arbitrarily appointed by him (who would remain a director of another institution at the same time) as by merging the two institutions. The functions of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery and the MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art are distinct in character. So are the roles they play in the cultural and artistic life of the city of Krakow. A museum is an institution established, primarily, for collecting works of art, conservation, and preservation of cultural heritage for future generations. A municipal gallery, on the other hand, is an agora and a venue where contemporary artists present their work. It is a meeting place for art-makers and audiences as well as the place where emerging artists learn how to exhibit their works in cooperation with curators. It is also a site of artistic experimentation.

The history and tradition of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery go back to 1965 when the Municipal Exhibition Pavilion [Miejski Pawilon Wystawowy] was established. Promoting avant-garde approaches throughout several decades of its operation, the gallery has gained a significant position on the art map of Poland and Europe. In practice, incorporating the gallery into museum structures means a dissolution of the institution with a detrimental impact on the local, regional and national contemporary art scene. An absence of a municipal gallery on the map of Krakow would inflict damage not only on current residents of the city but also on the future growth of Polish art. The Bunkier Sztuki is the place where numerous contemporary Polish artists began their careers in the arts, which they successfully continue in Poland and abroad.

We call for maintaining the sovereign status of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art in Krakow by organising a new competition for the post of its director. The process of selecting a candidate ought to be transparent and openly available to the public. The Competition Committee shall be set up comprising representatives of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Municipality of Krakow as well as experts active in the field of contemporary culture representing the Civic Forum for Contemporary Art [Obywatelskie Forum Sztuki Współczesnej] and the International Association of Art Critics. The Committee should also include representatives of the Bunkier Sztuki employee team, who in recent years has been an actual creator of the program of the Gallery, and who, to our deepest concern, has learnt about the plans of restructuring of their own workplace – just as every other member of the public – from the press and social media.

We hope that you will consider our positions in your decisions.

Most respectfully,

Iwona Demko

Monika Drożyńska

 

Sign the petition here.

 

/PL

Szanowny Panie Ministrze,

jako środowisko artystyczne uczestniczące czynnie w funkcjonowaniu Bunkra Sztuki w Krakowie pragniemy przekazać nasze zaniepokojenie planami restrukturyzacji wspomnianej instytucji.

Pan Prezydent Miasta Krakowa prof. Jacek Majchrowski zwrócił się do Pana Ministra (w dniu 21 stycznia 2019 r.) z wnioskiem o zgodę na odstąpienie od obowiązku organizowania konkursu na stanowisko dyrektora Bunkra Sztuki. Pan Prezydent prof. Jacek Majchrowski poinformował również opinię publiczną o planach połączenia dwóch odrębnych instytucji: Galerii Bunkier Sztuki oraz Muzeum Sztuki Współczesnej MOCAK.

Zdajemy sobie sprawę z trudności organizacyjnych narosłych wokół Bunkra Sztuki. Związane są one przede wszystkim z odwołaniem dotychczasowej dyrektorki Magdaleny Ziółkowskiej z pełnionej funkcji przed czasem zakończenia kadencji (maj 2018 r.). Wiemy, że wynik ogłoszonego potem konkursu okazał się negatywny i pomimo przedstawienia trzech kandydatur, żadna ze zgłoszonych osób nie otrzymała pozytywnej rekomendacji. Wiemy także o złym technicznym stanie budynku i potrzebie jego modernizacji. Pomimo powyższych przesłanek jesteśmy przekonani, że powołanie nowego dyrektora nie powinno odbyć się poprzez arbitralne wskazanie konkretnej osoby, ale powinno zostać rozstrzygnięte w drodze oficjalnie ogłoszonego konkursu.

Niepokoją nas również plany związane z połączeniem Bunkra Sztuki z Muzeum Sztuki Współczesnej MOCAK. Role, które pełnią obie instytucje mają odrębny charakter. Muzeum jest instytucją powołaną przede wszystkim do opieki nad dziełami sztuki, ich konserwacją i zachowaniem spuścizny kulturalnej dla kolejnych pokoleń. Galeria miejska jest zaś rodzajem agory oraz miejscem gdzie wystawiają swoje prace współcześni artyści. Jest miejscem spotkań twórców z publicznością, ale także miejscem, gdzie początkujący artyści i artystki uczą się jak prezentować swoją twórczość we współpracy z kuratorami i kuratorkami. Jest także miejscem eksperymentów artystycznych.

Historia Galerii Bunkier Sztuki rozpoczyna się w 1965 r. otwarciem Miejskiego Pawilonu Wystawowego. Promując awangardowe postawy artystyczne w ciągu kilku dekad swojego istnienia, galeria zyskała znaczenie na artystycznej mapie Europy. Włączenie jej w struktury muzeum oznacza w praktyce likwidację omawianej instytucji, która niekorzystnie odbije się na lokalnej, regionalnej i ogólnopolskiej scenie sztuki współczesnej. Brak galerii miejskiej na mapie Krakowa okaże się stratą nie tylko dla współczesnych mieszkańców miasta, ale także dla rozwoju polskiej sztuki. To w Bunkrze Sztuki wielu uznanych współczesnych artystów i artystek zaczynało swoje artystyczne kariery, które kontynuują w Polsce i na świecie.

Zwracamy się z prośbą przeprowadzenia ponownego konkursu na stanowisko dyrektora Bunkra Sztuki w Krakowie. Proces wyłonienia nowej osoby powinien być klarowny i dostępny dla opinii publicznej. W skład Komisji Konkursowej powinni wchodzić przedstawiciele Ministerstwa Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego, Gminy Miejskiej Kraków oraz ekspertów czynnie działających w obszarze współczesnej kultury – przedstawiciel lub przedstawicielka Obywatelskiego Forum Sztuki Współczesnej oraz Międzynarodowego Stowarzyszenia Krytyków Sztuki AICA. W komisji powinni znaleźć się również przedstawiciele zespołu Bunkra Sztuki, którzy o planach restrukturyzacji ich własnego miejsca pracy dowiedzieli się – tak jak wszyscy inni – z prasy i mediów społecznościowych.

Mamy nadzieję, że Pan Minister uwzględni w swoich decyzjach nasze stanowisko.

Z wyrazami szacunku,

Iwona Demko

Monika Drożyńska

Organized art workers as an obstacle for capitalist culture / ArtLeaks interviewed in IG Kultur

January 20, 2019
christiane-rath_großmutters-wohnzimmer-odonien_0

Großmutters Wohnzimmer, Odonien/Köln © Christiane Rath http://www.rath-art.de

Lidija K. Radojević

Organized art workers as an obstacle for capitalist culture

An interview with Corina L. Apostol & Vladan Jeremić

The rise of cultural and creative industries (CCIs) has drawn attention to traditionally marginalized and disorganized forms of work. While jobs such as writer, artist or musician were once considered ‘bohemian’ or irregular, they have become widely accepted, conventional career paths. Nevertheless, labour such as ‘creative’ production, ‘cultural’ work or ‘artistic’ creation cannot be facilitated by mass production processes without losing a significant part of their product-value. The growing contribution of CCIs to national economies and the sector’s potential for creating new jobs have led to a situation, in which working conditions are no longer questioned. Instead, governments and other policymakers automatically assume cultural work to be an intrinsically progressive type of labour. With production processes being further fragmented and individualized, collectively organized resistance against systematic injustice has become a rare occasion in a field that emphasizes the virtues of self-reliance, unique talent and personalized work. ArtLeaks, a transnational platform dealing with the abuse of labour rights in the fields of culture and arts, exposes production conditions and applies pressure on art institutions and cultural policy makers. I was talking to two co-founders of the platform, Corina L. Apostol, Ph.D., art historian and curator from New York, and Vladan Jeremić, an artist from Belgrade, about inequalities in the art world and possible strategies against this development.

1) You are known for leaking cases in which labour rights were abused in the art world. Could you tell me about the beginnings of your activities?

These cases have been very important for the political focus of ArtLeaks. In 2010, we published our first campaign targeting the Bucharest Biennale. The organizers of the event refused to respect even the most basic labour rights, resulting in a situation in which the participating artists were exploited and censored. Our practice emerged organically from our wish to fight back humiliation and ill-treatment of art workers in Romania. Later, a core group of voluntary activists decided to continue the work by exposing further cases of malpractice in the field globally. This allowed us to direct our focus on the oppressive system being imposed on art workers. With several workers agreeing to publicize their cases, we were able to celebrate small victories over such power structures. The support of Prof. Suzana Milevska and her right to continue to teach at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna was certainly one of the most important, yet complicated cases in the history of ArtLeaks.

2) Could you describe the initial political agenda of ArtLeaks?

From the beginning, we have been raising several questions: What does it mean to reclaim the space of cultural production, both in physical reality as well as digitally? What are the long-term consequences of disrupting the ‘business as usual’ modes of action houses and large galleries? What could be the result of taking over corrupt state institutions? What forms of art education could be established that goes beyond the scope of private academia? Would such a space allow the creation of social alternatives, support the emergence of new ways of thinking and contribute to the formation of resistant political subjectivities?

Cultural workers elaborate on strategies that allow us to transform culture and society. However, after the decline of the Occupy Movement, activists were confronted with the problem of ephemerality. From our point of view, it seems necessary to connect the art workers’ protests of the past years with each other and to highlight alternatives engendered by these movements. On the basis of post-Marxist theory, ArtLeaks takes a clear stance in the contemporary conflict about labour and capital. We understand that the art sector is a part of the wider economic processes in globalized capitalism.

3) Which strategies and tools have you developed to implement your political agenda?

In the past decade, it has become clear that art workers are seeking social transformation. There are different ways how such a change could be achieved. ArtLeaks intends to highlight the wide range of these ideas. Apart from various calls – from the boycott of certain institutions and events to the formation of new art worlds – we have created publications, workshops, and learning-exhibitions dealing with the topic. We need to renew our understanding of past endeavors in order to create experiences that are capable of raising our consciousness as well as to provide models for an effective organization of art workers.

4) Could you please define your political stance? Do you see any historical references in your own work?

Ever since the nineteenth century, art worker coalitions, syndicates, and communes have placed the political dimension of art production under scrutiny. These often self-organized groups, which have developed against the backdrop of social movements around the world, invented various forms of protest and public intervention. Their main purpose was to defend artists’ rights and to reclaim cultural institutions which are embedded in a profound structure of power and capital. These initiatives sought to establish the historically reoccurring notion of ‘art workers’ in order to shift the labor-relations within the production and distribution of art and culture. Historically, we draw our inspiration from artists and initiatives such as Gustave Courbet and the Paris Commune, Gustav Metzger’s “Art Strike”, Lee Lozano’s “General Strike Piece”, the relentless activities of the Art Worker’s Coalition towards a democratization of museums and, more recently, the Obywatelskie Forum Sztuki Współczesnej (Civic Forum for Contemporary Art, OFSW) in Poland and their art strike strategies. Similarly, ArtLeaks aims to influence public discussion on cultural matters, with a focus on the symbolic, political and socio-economic role of cultural producers.

5) How would you contextualise the practical and political work of ArtLeaks?

The political articulation of ArtLeaks is closely related to the anti-austerity movement in the wake of the global financial crisis after 2008. As a result, we have witnessed an increasing politicization of students and art workers worldwide, leading to the emergence of initiatives such as Precarious Workers Brigade, Haben und Brauchen, W.A.G.E. and, not least, ArtLeaks. Initially, we did not regard it necessary to strive for alliances with established unions. Instead, we thought of ArtLeaks as tactical media intervention rather than being an organization restricted to one specific political sector. Unfortunately, the resources of ArtLeaks are rather limited. Moreover, the people involved in the project live in different cities. For these reasons, ArtLeaks has always been an online project on the basis of trust and quick reactions. We did have several physical meetings in order to discuss our basic principles and to decide on modes of collaboration. While our initial gatherings took place in Berlin, Belgrade, and Moscow, we later started to develop our own practice in the course of presentations at exhibitions, conferences, and workshops.

6) Whom does your work address?

According to the logic of creative industries, production is extracted from various entrepreneurs who are isolated from each other – with the artist being one of those. Hence, it is neither sufficient to question the status of cultural workers, nor to criticize state regulations on public funding, education or taxation. Instead, it is important to consider privileges, as well as challenges practitioners, may be facing as a direct consequence of institutionalized market ideology.

In defining a cultural worker, ArtLeaks rejects a sharp division according to the institutional position, legal status or cultural sector. In our view, anybody who is related to the production, distribution, and communication of an art product can be considered as an ‘art worker’. Drawing on Marx’ definition, art workers are subject to categories of class and the relationship between those classes. Thereby, it becomes clear that the analysis of class structure (its relation to the means of production) and the productive process of subjectivization (in the course of class struggle) involves objective and subjective factors. As a result, art workers can be defined as those who struggle against hegemonic positions, who denounce instances of abuse in the realm of cultural labour, who confront repression by dishonest management, who refuse to accept the normality of precarious conditions and who resist the appropriation of politically engaged art, culture and theory by institutions that are embedded in a tight mesh of capital and power.

In 2015, we organized the ‘Trondheim Seminar’ in Norway. In the course, participants tackled problems such as the organization of art labour, the definition of precarity and the separation of art and labour. However, the question remained of how to break up the social division of labour, serving as the basis for the separation of art and labour as distinct categories. Moreover, the participants agreed on the importance of supporting artists to get involved in a joint struggle.

7) Due to its transnational nature, ArtLeaks reflects on labour relations in economical core regions as well as in a sub-ordinated periphery. Could you please describe your perspective on the discrepancy between core and periphery in terms of structures of power and dominance in the field of cultural production?

In fact, the transnational practice of ArtLeaks already reveals a significant imbalance in the relationship between the center and the periphery. It is important, however, to keep in mind that the term ‘periphery’ cannot simply be associated with nation states or regions; the center/periphery-relations are not fixed on certain territories, but should rather be understood as a process being subject to constant change. We must be aware that these changes can happen very slowly so that we might get the impression that the center and periphery are related to certain territories. We could, for example, describe Russia or the Balkans as peripheric, while certain spaces in Moscow or Bucharest are clearly in a core position. Accordingly, the situation for art workers in New York under the Trump-government or in Berlin with its strong gentrification processes might be more precarious than in places that would traditionally be considered peripheral. It is important to note that ArtLeaks addresses a broad range of labour rights in the cultural field instead of supporting only one isolated group of art workers.

In relation to the periphery, the center fulfills several functions: it fosters the hegemonic discourses of modernisation and cultural development, colonizes so-called “small cultures” and attracts skilled labour which is thereby absorbed by the core economy. The advancing integration of global financial markets and the culture of social media have further accelerated the colonisation of the periphery. Even though our interventions concentrate primarily on the internet space and on new media, ArtLeaks goes beyond a temporary, tactical media practice. Instead, we consider ArtLeaks as a strategic tool to expose labour conditions in order to raise the pressure in favor of the periphery, the precarity, and oppressed labour.

8) How do you define the role of ArtLeaks in the formation of a broad alliance supporting the struggle of workers?

ArtLeaks appreciates the international character of the growing movement for labour rights. New forms of resistance make it necessary to rethink art production, to develop creative strategies for organizing institutions and, more generally, to establish a new kind of politics. Thereby, ArtLeaks claims a virtual space that allows art workers to translate their aspirations into a renewed cycle of struggles. In some of our most recent publications, we have attempted to actively coordinate different struggles by sketching out how an international union of art workers might be structured.

At the moment, the most prevailing problem seems to be the local isolation of quite similar struggles, which all too often renders the activists’ efforts ineffective. ArtLeaks intends to raise awareness of own activities and to support the work of similar groups such as W.A.G.E., Precarious Workers’ Brigade and Wages For Wages Against. Through a web of online channels and public space activities, ArtLeaks will continue to promote a larger, international body of resistance and solidarity for the labour rights of art workers.

This interview appeared in German in IG Kultur 1/18 “Prekär Leben.” The ful issue is available for download here.

 

Oily body prints on the Concertgebouw demand end of Shell sponsorship (The Netherlands)

January 20, 2019

The writing is on the wall for the Concertgebouw and Shell: Fossil Free Culture NL calls for a Fossil Free Museumplein.

Amsterdam, January 20, 2019– Following their successful campaign to get the Van Gogh Museum to end its 18-year sponsorship deal with oil and gas company Shell last year, today artists from Fossil Free Culture NL staged their first performance of 2019 to launch their new project demanding a Fossil Free Museumplein, Amsterdam. The group printed oil-drenched human bodies onto the glass façade of the Concertgebouw, exposing the true nature of the inappropriate relationship between the cultural institution and Royal Dutch Shell. 

At around 12:00, fifteen performers from Fossil Free Culture NL calmly took their stage in front of the glass façade of the Concertgebouw. Slowly, three oil-drenched bodies emerged and were gently pressed against the glass. The oily body prints left behind after the performance ended, reminded of the twisted bodies depicted in Francis Bacon’s triptychs.

Maria Rietbergen of Fossil Free Culture NL says: “The is the meeting point for the political and financial elites that rule the Netherlands. Shell lobbyists want to rub shoulders with these elites to normalise their destructive global business practices. Not only in the institution’s business club, but in their boardroom as well. The Concertgebouw is now the last cultural institution on Amsterdam’s Museumplein still accepting sponsorship from the fossil fuel industry. We call for a Fossil Free Museumplein: Concertgebouw, drop Shell!”

The oily body prints refer to the women, men and children across the globe forced, often with their bare hands, to clean up the mess Shell leaves behind. For instance the numerous oil spills in the Niger delta. This unhealthy endeavour usually takes place out of the sight and mind of the majority of the Dutch. Fossil Free Culture NL hits home by placing that particular stain on national culture where it belongs: on Shell’s clubhouse, the Royal Concertgebouw.

The title of the performance, Writing on the Wall, signals that time is up for fossil fuel sponsorship of our cultural heritage.

“The Rijksmuseum rid itself of oilgiant Saudi Aramco in 2017. The Van Gogh Museum followed suit and dropped Shell as their sponsor in 2018. It is now time for the Concertgebouw to immediately cut their ties with the catastrophic fossil fuel industry. Shell is one of the biggest polluters that have knowingly pushed our climate to the brink of collapse. There is no place for Shell in the arts,” says Maria Rietbergen.

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Fossil Free Culture NL is a collective of artists, activists, researchers and critics working at the intersection of art and climate activism. Our goal is to confront oil and gas sponsorship of public cultural institutions in the Netherlands. We are committed to terminally eroding the fossil fuel industry’s social legitimacy and their resultant license to operate. We are part of an international movement that works to liberate cultural institutions from fossil fuels. We collaborate with groups in the UK, like BP or not BP? and Culture Unstained; France, Libérons le Louvre; Norway, Stopp oljesponsing av Norsk Kulturliv; USA, Occupy Museums and The Natural History Museum, among others.

 

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Reports on last Van Gogh Museum performance:

End The Fossil Fuel Age Now (June 9 2018) http://www.fossilfreeculture.nl/portfolio/end-the-fossil-fuel-age-now/

Coverage of the Van Gogh Museum dropping Shell as a partner (selection):

– The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/09/business/environmental-activists-take-on-oil-money.html

– Hyperallergic: https://hyperallergic.com/458217/as-dutch-museums-stop-accepting-fossil-fuel-money-oil-companies-eye-uk-museums/

– Arts Professional: https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/news/campaigners-celebrate-museums-end-ties-oil-giant

Fossil Free Culture NL Manifesto:

http://www.fossilfreeculture.nl/manifesto/

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