When is it okay to work for free? Is it acceptable as long as you’re working with—or for—another artist? Have you made an artwork if nothing’s left for someone else to own?More »
Shannon Jackson, Director of the Arts Research Center, UC Berkeley
When is it okay to work for free? Is it acceptable as long as you’re working with—or for—another artist? What is an artistic service? These are just a few of the hundreds of questions circulating for artists working in the 21st-century economy, a scene in which the very old question of art’s financial contingency arguably has a different kind of urgency and opacity. With “Valuing Labor in the Arts,” the Arts Research Center (ARC) gathered artists, curators, organizers, and researchers to work together on such questions.
One key value for ARC is to make sure that artists from various disciplines contribute to the conversations we stage. For this assemblage, we invited a range of artists to create small, artist-led workshops devised to spur dialogue, action, and art making around questions of art, labor, and economics.
This special double-issue of Art Practical, curated by the Arts Research Center, served as a primer for the April 19, 2014 gathering and now includes more responses and meditative essays from writers working in economics, sociology, art history, performance studies, dance, film studies, and literature. All of these texts, along with work produced in situ, have helped us both to document our processes and to reflect further on the issues explored.
Most of our workshops were limited to small groups to allow for meaningful creation within the parameters of the workshop. While we were acutely aware that this depth of interaction necessarily limited those who had access to it, the hope now is that the ideas raised in these exercises and articles can be widely shared and will provide fodder for more.