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Tate – hardly a stranger to controversy – has this week come under attack from two artist groups, their criticisms centered around Tate Modern’s tenth anniversary celebration No Soul for Sale, which was held over the weekend of 14–16 May.
Making A Living, an anonymous organisation describing itself as ‘a discussion group of arts professionals currently active across the UK’, issued an open letter to the Tate challenging the museum’s treatment of artists during the ‘No Soul for Sale’ event.
The group write: ‘It has come to our attention that many participants are not being paid by Tate Modern for their efforts. In fact, most are self-funding their activities throughout the weekend. Tate describes this situation as a “spirit of reciprocal generosity between Tate and the contributors”. But at what point does expected generosity become a form of institutional exploitation? Once it becomes endemic within a large publicly funded art space?’
Arguing that ‘it is complacent for Tate to believe that their position is comparable to ground level arts activity’ and that it is ‘disingenuous’ for the museum to claim that this ‘spirit of reciprocal generosity’ is ‘somehow altruistic or philanthropic’, Making A Living go on to accuse Tate of not having paid artists ‘for some exhibitions, workshops and events, including last year’s Tate Triennial’, although no specific details are given in the letter.
They end their letter by calling on Tate ‘to make public its policy in regard to artists’ fees’.
Contrasting ideas of value, time, energy and labour converge in artist Stephanie Syjuco’s Counterfeit Crochet Project:
In 2006 I created a website soliciting crocheters to join me in hand-counterfeiting designer handbags: Fendi, Gucci, Chanel, Prada, etc. Participants troll the internet and choose a design that they particularly covet, working off of low-resolution jpgs which they download. The final results may or may not bear resemblance to the originals, which is an interesting part of the “translation.”
The resulting counterfeits are both homages and lumpy mutations. Crochet is considered a lowly medium, and the limitations imposed by trying to create detail with yarn takes advantage of the individual maker’s ingenuity and problem-solving skills. I am also interested in how this project parallels and diverges from contemporary capitalist factory production and distribution channels.
As a collaboration it parallels the idea of “outsourcing” labor, but also adds a democratic and perhaps anarchic level of creativity–within the basic framework, participants have taken liberties with their translations, changing colors, adding materials (cardboard, hot glue, etc.) to suit their needs. Makers are encouraged to keep and wear their bags, in an attempt to insert strange variants into the stream of commerce and consumption. I ask for people to send me snapshots of their items to share with others.
This is an ongoing global project, with makers from all over the world. I am always seeking more collaborators, so please contact me to join up! In 2007 the project travelled to Manila, Beijing, and Istanbul for exhibitions and counterfeiting workshops.
Image: Nicole’s D&G Counterfeit
Patterns available include how to bootleg a Chanel purse; Creating Knockoff Logos; Creating the Gucci and Chanel Patterns. Also available is a useful list of ‘solidarity’ websites and links to useful tutorials.
Amateur Hour is a showcase for exciting new learning, skills, entertainment and public actions. Submissions in any form welcome to selfinterestandsympathy [at] gmail [dot] com
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Crisis in the Credit System is a four-part drama dealing with the credit crisis, scripted and directed by artist Melanie Gilligan. A major investment bank runs a brainstorming and role-playing session for its employees, asking them to come up with strategies for coping with today’s dangerous financial climate. Role-playing their way into increasingly bizarre scenarios, they find themselves drawing disturbing conclusions about the deeper significance of the crisis and its effects beyond the world of finance.
Image: Rathowen, Co. Westmeath, from Ghost Estates of the Irish Property Bubble
The title of this post comes from a chapter in Jane Jacobs’ book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, from 1963. Though speaking about housing and planning policies in the sixties and earlier in the US, the text has a sudden renewed sharpness in relation to recent events. (It doesn’t speak of diasaster capitalism a la Naoimi Klein, although there are similarities in the language of upheaval, violence and shock). Arguing for the necessity of ‘gradual, constant close grained changes’, Jacobs says:
… this money shapes cataclysmic changes in cities. Relatively little of it shapes gradual change. Cataclysmic money pours into an area in concentrated form, producing drastic changes. As an obverse of this behaviour, cataclysmic money sends relatively few trickles of money into localities not treated to cataclysm. Putting it figuratively, insofar as their effects on most city streets and districts are concerned, these three kinds of money [state, private and ‘shadow world’] behave not like irrigation systems, bringing life-giving streams to feed steady, continual growth. Instead, they behave like manifestations of malevolent climates beyond the control of man – affording either searing droughts or torrential, eroding floods…
City people finance the building of suburbs. To be sure, one of the historic missions of cities, those marvelously productive and efficient places, is to finance colonisation…
This city building money operates as it does not because of its own internal necessities and forces. It operates cataclymically because we, as a society, have asked for just this. We thought it would be good for us, and we got it. Now we accept it as if it were ordained by God or the system.
The pervasive responses to the recession here have been variations along the spectrum of I’m fucked to I’m alright, Jack. (And maybe now is time to get a good deal on a used car?) Apparently we will have to weather this recession until times get good again. The sense of resignation to capitalism’s sometimes cruel weather systems is disheartening. There are very many diverse microclimates to be found in the shade of mountains and in gardens and small parks elsewhere, both by chance and by design.
This is a short and admittedly slightly random post based on a collection of observations about table tennis/ ping pong: I saw an exhibition in IMMA yesterday by Mark Clare and it seems that table tennis is the mode du jour to address geopolitical issues. Very zeitgesity.
There is a pleasing symnetry to it when you start to see it in an epic,East versus West, Communism versus Capitalism kind of way. After the jump, a short anthology of culturally important moments in table tennis. Contributions welcome…
1. An impoverished ping pong table collapses in the midst of a game among youngsters at Santa Anita assembly center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry, California, 1942. Image held here
This blog is not usually used in the interests of self-promotion, but the content seemed to fit here, this time, so here goes.
Above are two recent works exhibited at a show called City of Ideas at a self-storage warehouse in Galway, Ireland. The show was curated by Human Resources (Ben Roosevelt and Emma Houlihan).
Model for Experiencing Economic Panic/ Excitement
Landscape of Desires and Manias [Tulipmania, 1640s; South Sea Bubble, 1720; UK Railway Crash, 1830s]
These are experiments very much informed by the research themes in this blog, and the sense of emptiness and excess that pervaded the storage space. I’ve also recently been investigating the ‘Economic Worry Matrix’ and ideas of irrationality and so-called ‘market sentiment’.