Thursday, October 27, 2011

Response: State of the Union + Watch Where You Are Putting That Pencil + This Is Our Real Job / Use a Bicycle - The Apprentice In the Sun + How to Reclaim the Common?

State of the Union + Watch Where You Are Putting That Pencil + This Is Our Real Job

The issue of financial support for creative producers including--but not limited to--artists and art writers is painted with a dire brush in the trio of selections from Art Work. I am inclined to think that This Is Our Real Job's call for unionization would be more useful than their suggestion that artists and educators "walk out", so I am slightly surprised that the article does not mention the Freelancer's Union, a non-profit organization specifically designed to help provide a safety net (albeit a minimal one) for not only creative producers but many other types of workers. Unfortunately, the Freelancer's Union is not able to provide collective bargaining rights that might allow members to collect higher wages, but this is an obstacle with the US's legal landscape that may be more surmountable if there was broader support.

The revival of New Deal arts programs like the WPA and FAP might be effective, but because they would depend either on a proactive, if undemocratic (there is not much public clamor for government art), act of government or massive changes in the social structure and outlook of our citizenry, they seem to be only distant possibilities. Which, frankly, is a relief to me; I am intensely uncomfortable with the concept of the government--any government--being placed in a position to exert control over what work is made, and who it is made for.

Use a Bicycle - The Apprentice In the Sun + How to Reclaim the Common?

It is interesting to note how the selections from Destroying Public Harmony also feature political and lifestyle prescriptions for artists, albeit not quite as stridently as the articles from Art Work. Rainier Ganahl's text Use a Bicycle - The Apprentice In the Sun seems to be a meandering promotion of a style of "lifestyle art" that is basically a form of mindful awareness. The text could have merely served as an interesting discussion of the sources and symbols of Ganahl's work, but unfortunately he tacked on an unconvincing appeal to a re-adoption of the bicycle as an inspirational muse for a more progressive society. It is annoying not because it is wrong, but because it is probably true--however the fact that the rest of the text is comprised of historical non-sequiturs and descriptions of how he has an erotic fetish for bicycles does not really support his conclusion.

Doina Petrescu's How to Reclaim the Common? chillingly but concisely describes the deleterious effect of catastrophic privatization on Romanian society. However, Petrescu's call for "collective subjectivity" manages to sound more oppressive than liberating; instead of counteracting the corrosive effects of private ownership of public spaces, the adamant prescription of collective action merely evokes a different form of social control that has already been demonstrated to be corruptible.

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