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the neoliberal artist performing its services for the “public good”

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The Artist’s Exceptional Labouring Body – MCA/Artbar

Sumugan Sivanesan and I performed a lecture of sorts as an experiment in the artist’s exceptional labouring body in 3D! As part of Artbar at the Museum of Contemporary Art July 29 curated by Wade Marynowsky.

The introductory text:

This event is a work in progress in the sense that the artist work is never done. These conceptual nuggets are paraded here as raw material, half baked and unfolding. In a state of becoming. In a state of human. And as a performative resistance to becoming human capital.

We will present a number of resonant statements. Accompanied by images. We will try to resist becoming human capital by drawing attention to the human capital.  This might be reminiscent of the ways in which one draws attention to their fears in order to diminish them.

For these purposes we want to draw attention to our artist fee, as singular coins encased in these two display jars in front here. Each jar contains 200 x one dollar coins.

Your participation can happen in several ways. You can shift this capital from one jar to the other, in a simple act of making capital flow. You can extract capital from this act if you feel you have expended time and have not been compensated in other more intangible forms either through your enjoyment or knowledge gained. And finally you can add to this capital by departing with some of your own capital into one of the jars, and in this way contribute to the further extension of these ideas by expanding the bank accounts of the presenting artists. 

You have been given an opportunity to bear witness to what will follow, and you will exert energy in participating, attempting to decode and reassemble in your own mind and inside your own exceptional body what takes place here.

Our focus here is on the artist’s exceptional labouring body. These are bodies we describe as excessive bodies, or bodies that both exceed the capture by capital, and at the same time are increasingly marinated in and absorbed by capital.

At various points as we labour through this presentation, we may inject moments of ourselves and our own personal experiences in the pursuit of this open autopsy of artistic process.

We have prepared some images, and we have prepared some devices for viewing these images. We have prepared some notes, but our intention tonight is to unfold these thoughts, not necessarily in the order they were conceived, and as other ideas occur to us—triggered by our corporeal presence here tonight in the presence of other exceptional bodies—we take pause and reflect where necessary, or where possible, we may interact as two bodies in dialogue.

 

Projects

Dating an Economist

[A series of performative dinner dates and audio recordings]

 

During 2015 Rebecca Conroy went on a series of dates with economic philosophers and finance dudes across North America and Europe and called it an art project. The result is a series of recorded conversations and thoughts on the subject of finance capitalism, power, intimacy, and the intangibility of how we create value. Part radio documentary, part experimental fiction, this work is ongoing and will appear finally as a four-part experimental audio documentary in 2016. First audio edition commissioned by Radio National (Creative Audio Unit) in June, 2016.

The intention of this work is to provoke and ponder the relationship between capital and the artists labouring body, different imaginings of currency, and to explore the poetry of finance algorithms and acts of self-determination for a possible post-capitalist future.

Follow the dates here

Listen to a radio interview about the project here

Hear the commissioned radio piece here

Projects

Iron Lady

[Performative encounter and installation]

The Iron Lady is an artisanal business shirt ironing salon for temporary installation in close proximity to the finance district of a city. This artistic operation will seek to generate trade and exchange in a pop-off salon, using conversation and a unique shirt ironing service for the location’s finance workers. Simultaneously it will extract useful data related to how the world of finance ‘works’, and seek fugitive alliances with the art of economy and the economics of art.

The Iron Lady is one tough lady. She is not afraid of the big end of town. She knows what she is worth, and she can iron a mean business shirt in 7 minutes flat.

Creative Development: 30 Oct – 6 Nov

Presentation: 11 – 25 November

This work is a commision by PADA and presented by VitalStatistix (Adelaide)

Collaborators: Emma and Lucky Price.

http://vitalstatistix.com.au/projects/iron-lady/

 

Projects

Money Laundering

[Experimental Economic Outfit]

2016 – 2018

Money Laundering is an experimental business incubator which will form the basis to a fully operational artist run laundromat in 2017. This part of the project-machine is magical in thinking and pragmatic in form, carefully plotting all the necessary thoughts, designs, connections, practices, ideas and people who will contribute to manifesting the Laundromat.

The focus of laundromat is to provide flexible paid employment for a creative worker during the in between times of the feast and famine of creative economy. This project is a response to the precarity of the artist labouring body, and as an experiment in ‘companion planting’ that enables the ordinary and extraordinary to cross fertilise.

The core business of the laundromat is to generate income for artists working in the gig-economy to be redistributed back into local economy and the pockets of artists . Only artists will be employed in its service. Its secondary concern is providing a washing and ironing service for the local community in which it is located. This work is not considered in contra-distinction, but as coextensive with much of creative labour that is necessary, ordinary, and physical. It is also an opportunity to practice mindfulness and to interact with community. Naturally, it also has plans to house a library and function as a gathering event-space for artists and their community.

Over the next 24 months the following things will take place in slow marination:

  1. The development and design of the artist led laundromat to be based in Sydney Australia.
  2. Meeting with owners of laundromats in Sydney to research the basic mechanics of managing a laundromat
  3. Location scouting for the right premises to establish the laundromat and appropriate building compliance research to ensue viability.
  4. Development of a business model and app that would enable the employment of artists based on a ‘feast and famine’ gig economy, which places the dynamic of creative labouring at the centre of the business plan.
  5. Exploring options for a residency for artists within a laundromat.
  6. Develop partnership strategies for an incubator economic model to develop the “business” as an open source prototype.

This project is being developed with three awesome ladiez in the bizz.

SANDY SAXON 

Sandy is an experienced administrator, grants manager, researcher and curator, with Masters degrees in fine arts and arts administration. For more than a decade, Sandy has worked with national arts organisations such as the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) within public programs, Performance Space, managing partnerships and fundraising, and at the Australia Council for the Arts,managing and evaluating grants programs. Currently Sandy is pursuing studies inSocial Impact at Swinburne University whilst working for the Multicultural Affairs & Social Cohesion division within the State Government’s Department of Premier & Cabinet. Sandy’s key area of expertise for Money Laundering is: research into philanthropic support; program and stakeholder management; and a deep working knowledge of the arts sector and the employment opportunities for arts practitioners.

SARAH CHISHOLM (Bird)

Sarah has worked in arts based community development and social enterprise for over 15 years. From working alongside newly arrived refugees in Wollongong on micro-enterprise fashion projects to managing Resource Recovery Australia, an award-winning national social enterprise creating work in the waste management industry for people with barriers to employment, she has learnt some things. The reason Bird is attracted to this project is ironic. While increasingly creating her living out of managing social enterprises, which create work for over 140 people, Bird continues to struggle to fulfil her personal dream of devoting serious time to making upcycled sculptures (think wearable xylophone and tonal bar art-fashion pieces), creating experimental music and slowly studying a range of skills to create beautiful things well, that may or may not say profound things. But these pursuits are not monetarily rewarded. And so the next “issue” Bird wants to crack is…. how do we create a more equitable environment for artists in our economy. Other roles include co-founding Green Connect Illawarra, a social enterprise that creates employment for newly arrived refugees in the resource recovery industries, and being a board member of The Social Outfit, a social enterprise that creates employment and training for new migrant communities, refugees and asylum seekers through the operation of an ethical and awesome fashion store. Sarah studied Fine Art, and has post graduate qualifications in social science and policy from UNSW, and social enterprise from the University of Sydney Business School.

JULIEANNE CAMPBELL (JC)

Julieanne is stimulated by strategy, community and better ways to do business. She has worked in media, the arts and NFP sector for over 25 years in Australia, the US, Europe and Asia. Alongside business partner Brian Keogh, Julieanne is one half of Cobalt59, a consultancy company that develops business systems and strategy for businesses, government and NFPs. She is General Manager at Urban Theatre Projects, Western Sydney’s most intrepid arts company, and Chair of Theatre Network NSW.

Project website here: http://moneylaunderingladiez.tumblr.com/