Thanks to my trusty feedreader, I’ve come across a contrasting viewpoint to the Art Work project that I posted on earlier this morning. On his blog LebenskÃ¼nstler Randall Szott notes that there are plenty of people who respectfully disagree with the underlying assumptions of Temporary Services’ new project. A tiny slice of the lengthier argument put forth by Szott follows:
“The idea that calling what you do â€œworkâ€ makes it â€œlegitimateâ€ or â€œmeaningfulâ€ is the crux of the problem I have with much of what one finds in Art Work. This sort of thinking is everywhere on the left and Marx does in fact provide the theoretical mirror in which many self-identified â€œcultural workersâ€ (I always shudder at this phrase) see themselves. Jean Baudrillard, the still mostly Marxist incarnation of which Bryan-Wilson cites, moved very quickly into a position not easily integrated within her piece or this newspaper as a whole. In his book The Mirror of Production he writes â€œThe critical theory of the mode of production does not touch the principle of production.â€ That is to say that Marxist analysis too readily embraces the terms of the debate and therefore provides a mere functional critique, one that Baudrillard might note, â€œâ€¦deciphers the functioning of the system of political economy; but at the same time it reproduces it as model.â€
Read Szott’s full argument here, along with comments responding to his post. Okay, and now I also feel appropriately shamed by my own use of the word ‘culture worker,’ which I agree can be cumbersome, pretentious, and plain-old lame sounding, but how else to encompass the different types of work we want to talk about under a single umbrella? Suggestions?
The rise of the “free economy” that Chris Anderson lauded in his book Free: The Future of a Radical Price (read Cory Doctorow’s astute review of the book’s arguments in the Guardian here) takes on an entirely different, and far less celebratory, meaning when applied to the work of artists, critics, curators, arts administrators and other low-paid (or no-paid) culture workers today. A newly launched newspaper called Art Work is attempting to lay bare hard truths about the flailing economy’s impact on cultural production. Finally, people are starting to talk about money, explicitly and on personal terms. Or at least, they’re trying to. Read more