WAGE

The Recalibrated Institution

Miami, FL

Website

As part of W.A.G.E.'s participation in The Recalibrated Institution, ArtCenter’s fall Fellowship Program in collaboration with the Bureau for Cultural Strategies (BUX), core organizer Lise Soskolne delivered a public talk that introduced the organization's past work with art institutions, and zeroed in on a series of paradoxes that characterize W.A.G.E.'s current efforts to organize the labor of artists.


For nearly a decade W.A.G.E. has maintained a myopic focus on regulating the payment of artist fees in the nonprofit sector in order to define the relation between artists and institutions as being one of labor and not charity. Unlike other labor campaigns that advocate for increases in minimum or living wages, ours has been a campaign to be recognized as workers, period, and to be compensated as such. W.A.G.E.’s approach to organizing artists in a field that devalues our ‘labor’ while simultaneously overvaluing our ‘work’ has been a long process of emptying out the figure of the artist as an economic subject. W.A.G.E.’s advocacy exclusively on behalf of artists has been necessary to drawing attention to our unique status as unpaid workers, but it has produced a profound paradox: by excluding other supply chain workers from our campaign we have effectively re-asserted our own exceptionality and called into question any commonality our labor might have with others. Furthermore, at the precise moment we seem to have arrived at the realization of our goal, artist compensation feels like the least urgent ground for political engagement. The nature of artists’ labor and its proximity to a global elite betrays an undeniable level of class privilege relative to the dehumanizing work much of the world’s population endures. This talk takes up the question of how what artists do is both like and unlike other forms of contemporary work, and how W.A.G.E.’s new approach to coalition building with institutions might provide the conditions necessary for collective mobilization around a shared politics of labor.

Events

Humans of the Institution

Amsterdam, NL

Website

W.A.G.E. contributed as a 'balcony caller' and workshop co-leader at Humans of the Institution, a two-day symposium at Veem House of Performance in Amsterdam. Convened  by Curatorial Practice, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen (UiB) and Frontier Imaginaries, Humans of the Institution was designed as a nuanced debate important to freelancers and institutions alike. Focused on the curator, discussions focused on the shifting contours of the global and the local, and how this shift is influencing the working conditions and methodologies of freelancers today. 

 

 

 

Future Climates: Graduating to Numbers

Paris, France

Website

How can the use of financial tools lead to emancipation from public subsidies and private donations for small-scale organizations and networks? How can new forms of transparency and redistribution be obtained through the use of financial design?

 

Invited by KADIST, State of Concept in turn invites Future Climates to present its second chapter entitled Graduating to Numbers (or How Grass-Root Organizations Intervene in Financial Affairs), a day of presentations and discussions with Antonia Alampi, Galit Eilat, iLiana Fokianaki, Victoria Ivanova, Giulia Palomba, Vermeir & Heiremans and W.A.G.E.

 


The issue of low wages, exploitation of immaterial labour and self-exploitation, the use of symbolic value as currency and its translations in terms of exclusion in institutions of visual arts is a recurrent debate with little effect on a structural level, in a field that seems to have transformed only slightly in how it operates and reproduces itself.

 

The Recalibrated Institution

Miami, FL

Website

As part of W.A.G.E.'s participation in The Recalibrated Institution, ArtCenter’s fall Fellowship Program in collaboration with the Bureau for Cultural Strategies (BUX), core organizer Lise Soskolne delivered a public talk that introduced the organization's past work with art institutions, and zeroed in on a series of paradoxes that characterize W.A.G.E.'s current efforts to organize the labor of artists.


For nearly a decade W.A.G.E. has maintained a myopic focus on regulating the payment of artist fees in the nonprofit sector in order to define the relation between artists and institutions as being one of labor and not charity. Unlike other labor campaigns that advocate for increases in minimum or living wages, ours has been a campaign to be recognized as workers, period, and to be compensated as such. W.A.G.E.’s approach to organizing artists in a field that devalues our ‘labor’ while simultaneously overvaluing our ‘work’ has been a long process of emptying out the figure of the artist as an economic subject. W.A.G.E.’s advocacy exclusively on behalf of artists has been necessary to drawing attention to our unique status as unpaid workers, but it has produced a profound paradox: by excluding other supply chain workers from our campaign we have effectively re-asserted our own exceptionality and called into question any commonality our labor might have with others. Furthermore, at the precise moment we seem to have arrived at the realization of our goal, artist compensation feels like the least urgent ground for political engagement. The nature of artists’ labor and its proximity to a global elite betrays an undeniable level of class privilege relative to the dehumanizing work much of the world’s population endures. This talk takes up the question of how what artists do is both like and unlike other forms of contemporary work, and how W.A.G.E.’s new approach to coalition building with institutions might provide the conditions necessary for collective mobilization around a shared politics of labor.

Artist Remuneration & UBI

Bern, Switzerland

Website

One of a series of lectures presented as part of Sommerakademie Paul Klee, artists Lise Soskolne (W.A.G.E.) and Enno Schmidt made presentations and engaged in a discussion moderated by artistic director Tirdad Zolghadr. The subject: what are the possibilities for artists who wish to share responsibility for the economic realities that surround them? Today’s context actually does offer strategies that enjoy a surprising degree of traction and success. From professional pressure groups demanding fair remuneration, to broader social movements tackling the very idea of wages, and of a universal income.

Martha Wilson: Activist History Teach-in

New York, NY

Website

Performance artist Martha Wilson, founder of Franklin Furnace, instigated an evening of presentations and performances as a "teach-in" with a selection of activist artists from the 1960s to the present, looking at the history of performance art as protest to consider which methods and strategies remain effective in today's political climate. 


Wilson, known for her political drag performances as first ladies Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan, will perform her recent work Martha Does Donald, in which she impersonates Donald Trump. In addition, the event will include presentations by artists Ann Agee, Rehan Ansari, Tomie Arai (Chinatown Art Brigade), Todd Ayoung (REPOhistory), Avram Finkelstein (ACT UP and Gran Fury), Alicia Grullón (Percent for Green), Amin Husain and Nitasha Dhillon (MTL), Taja Lindley (Harriet's Apothecary), Katherine Perk, Gregory Sholette (Gulf Labor Artists Coalition), Lise Soskolne (W.A.G.E.), and Barbara Zucker (A.I.R. Gallery).

Artists' Institutions #1: W.A.G.E., The Serving Library & 1857

Oslo, Norway

Website

Opening a series of talks about artists' institutions at UKS (The Young Artists' Society), three artists, all working as both individual creative producers as well as on larger institutional fabrics—Angie Keefer, co-founder of The Serving Library (Liverpool); Lise Soskolne, core organizer of W.A.G.E. (New York); and Steffen Håndlykken, co-founder of 1857 (Oslo)—exposed and reflected on their dual functions.


The discussion was moderated by UKS' director Rhea Dall, who talked about PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art, an institution she co-founded in Berlin in 2013. In advance of the talk, a workshop exploring different institutional models took place at UKS' offices. A prototype of UKS' upcoming Minibar was test-run during the event.
 
Founded by artists for artists as one of Norway's first experimental art institutions, UKS (The Young Artists' Society) has since 1921 been convening, exhibiting, and developing critical voices of contemporary artists, with the objective of having both an artistic and political impact within and beyond its region.

 

 

Critical Issues in Contemporary Art Practice: W.A.G.E.

Seattle, WA

Website

This talk at the Henry Art Gallery introduced the work of W.A.G.E., tracking its evolution as an organizing body and how it has responded to changing conditions within the art field over the past 9 years. It also included W.A.G.E.'s thinking around the artist as a hyper-individuated worker—a construction of what the industry demands.


W.A.G.E.'s approach to organizing artists in a field that devalues our 'labor' while simultaneously overvaluing our 'work' has been a long process of emptying out the figure of the artist as an economic subject. The talk took up W.A.G.E.'s current work to rebuild and redefine this compromised and contradictory figure, and to provide the conditions necessary to mobilizing artists collectively as a labor force.

Wages of Whiteness in the Art Economy

New York, NY

Website

As a Decolonize This Place collaborator, W.A.G.E. co-organized with MTL+ a conversation with Mabel Wilson, David Joselit, Amin Husain, Eva Mayhabal Davis, Nia Nottage, Sneha Ganguly, and Lise Soskolne (W.A.G.E.), at Artists Space Books & Talks.


"The art world's economy is sustained by underpaid or free labor across many of its sectors, from the production of art to the construction and maintenance of museums. This is manifest through the dual expectation that cultural producers work for exposure whilst institutional staff and contracted laborers work for less than a living wage. Arts-activist campaigns like W.A.G.E. and Gulf Labor have strategically focused on correcting certain inbuilt inequalities, but neither have yet incorporated a discussion of the economic underpinnings of white supremacy in the art system, despite it regularly being cited as one of the least diverse professional sectors. To cite one question, can solely economic factors account for the highly racialized split between producers, on the one hand, and the ground staff, on the other?

Decolonize This Place has operated on a maintenance economy that is more germane to movement-building work than the professional compensation structure of the established art world. How can such projects—which, like much movement work, rely on a political and personal commitment that is rarely remunerated—be promoted and sustained when they so evidently fall outside of art's established commodity system of display and discrete consumption? To what degree can wider movements for reparations inflect upon the art world? In the years to come, with a Trump presidency likely to be hostile to the lifeblood of free and critical expression, movement art will be needed more than ever. Who's going to be paying for it?"

– MTL+

W.A.G.E. Is Coming To Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

Neu Kirche (now closed) welcomed W.A.G.E. to Pittsburgh for the first time to meet with the local community. A public presentation for artists was followed by a workshop for administrators, directors, curators, and others who work in and for the Pittsburgh arts community to engage in an open discussion about equity and institutional practices. The discussion included an introduction to W.A.G.E. Certification with a focus on the challenges—and necessity—of implementing a system of compensation symbolic of economic value.

The Black Art Incubator: Art + Money + Strategy

New York, NY

Website

As part of the Art + Money series of the Black Art Incubator at Recess, W.A.G.E. talked strategy using two of its texts as a starting point: the W.A.G.E. Womanifesto and a statement written by W.A.G.E. in the summer of 2016 in support of Labor for Black Lives, an emergent labor coalition. The discussion was participatory, engaging how W.A.G.E.'s advocacy could operate more effectively at the intersection of labor and race, spurred by a question posed by W.A.G.E. to those in attendence: If artists in general have provided institutions with free labor by supplying content and services without compensation, how specifically has the uncompensated labor of black artists (and black workers) historically generated value for America’s cultural institutions? Read the texts here.

 

 

 

 

Public Exposures: Art Workers Organize

Toronto, Canada

Website

Nicole Cohen and Greig de Peuter organized and moderated a panel as part of 'Public Exposures: The Art-Activism of Condé + Beveridge (1976-2016)'. It included a presentation by W.A.G.E. on efforts to formalize artist fees through its Certification model, as well as an introduction to WAGENCY; Sally Lee of CARFAC Ontario discussed the artist's resale right; and artist Joshua Schwebel discussed his Subsidy project, an intervention in which he transferred his exhibition fee to otherwise unpaid gallery interns. 

Artists at Work: A Conversation on Art and Labor

Boston, MA

Website

Hosted by Boston University, this lecture and conversation addressed some of the key issues affecting working artists today. W.A.G.E. and Dushko Petrovich, founder of Adjunct Commuter Weekly, discussed the struggles facing working artists, including the challenges of juggling adjunct appointments across state lines and the disproportionate demands on artists to work without compensation. 

 

Towards Fair Practices in the Arts

Brussels, Belgium

Website

'Solidarity. How do we work together? Towards Fair Practices in the Arts' was a joint trajectory by and for the cultural sectors organized by State of the Arts, NICC, oKo, Hoogtijd, ACOD, Kunstenloket and Kunstenpunt. This first work conference focused on the notion of 'solidarity' within the various work processes and relationships that constitute the arts. Between artists, commissionaires, subsidizers, policy makers, curators, production teams, institutions, mediators and the public etc. W.A.G.E. Skyped in.

Chat Room: Value and Labor

Seattle, WA

Website

Chat Room is a quarterly forum on art in the age of the Internet at Northwest Film Forum in Seattle. "Value and Labor" included researcher and digital activist Dorothy Howard; digital designer, muralist, activist Christopher Paul Jordan; artist, DxArts professor (UW) James Coupe; and members of HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN Christa Bell and Sienna Shields in conversation with W.A.G.E. (prerecorded).

Charge 2016

Houston, TX

Website

Charge 2016 was a three-day convening presented by Art League Houston (a W.A.G.E. Certified organization) to 1. platform artist led alternative models of sustainability 2. advocate for equitable compensation for artists 3. consider artists' work in the larger economy. W.A.G.E. led a session on Sunday, January 10.

Alliance of Artists Communities' 2015 Annual Conference

Providence, RI

Website

Along with Alec De León (National Performance Network - Visual Artist Network), Carolina García Jayaram (United States Artists), and Laurel Ptak (Triangle Arts Association), W.A.G.E. presented and participated in 'The Matter of Money: Compensation, Equity, and Valuing Artists,' organized and moderated by Elizabeth Chodos (Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists' Residency). The panel explored the ethics of artist support by residency programs. Read W.A.G.E.'s contribution here.

WE (Not I): On Value

New York, NY

Website

W.A.G.E., Marina Vishmidt, and Melanie Gilligan co-organized a day of events around the theme of 'Value' as part of WE (Not I), a four day and night convening at Artists Space Books & Talks. In the evening after an all-day open work meeting, Marina Vishmidt, Melanie Gilligan, Lise Soskolne, Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz and Silvia Federici were in conversation around the value relations of art production, and what kinds of (feminist) value-critical politics can create transversal connections between crises in the different spaces where we practice. A short text connecting W.A.G.E. and Wages for Housework can be read here.


 

Taking on the question of value in an art context means immediately going beyond it but also through it, via the contradictions of race, gender, language, money and violence that structure the seen and said in the spaces we all try to carve an existence in. Departing from the challenges posed to value as it is reproduced in the spaces of art as in the political economy at large, we want to focus on how those challenges can and have been formulated through practices of collectivity, poetics, feminism, de-coloniality, technology and politics around race. The labor of reproduction and a non- or alter-reproductive futurity are close parameters here. Three main approaches to value will be pursued: conceptual, economic and the living-deathly of identity categories.

 

WE (Not I) took place September 30 - October 3, 2015 as a series of discursive meetings, presentations, and events that bring together a wide range of female artists, writers, curators and thinkers identifying with feminist practices to exchange and produce content addressing questions around the role of "we" in contemporary art practice.

 

 

Hand-in-Glove 2015

Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

Website

W.A.G.E. participated in 'Art Works?', a panel organized by Alison Gerber, with Lisa Dent (Creative Capital) and Wing Young Huie (Artist), at the third national Hand-in-Glove convening presented by Common Field. Responding to the question, When and how should artists be paid for their art? W.A.G.E. delivered a position statement which can be read here.


'Art Works?' took as its starting point position statements by diverse practitioners on the question of value in the arts, and aims to use those statements to generate a conversation on the complexities of the valuation of artistic practice. How should we account for the relational value of artists' activities, for the social value of arts organizations? Should art work be for-profit, non-profit, low-profit, no-profit? As artists professionalize, what's lost — and what's gained? How should artists and arts organizations respond to inequities in the arts and in our communities? The panel aimed to illuminate the political, ethical, affective and relational dimensions of valuation in the arts, and to promote both practical and utopian gestures towards a sustainable artistic practice.

 

Hand-in-Glove is an itinerant gathering created by and for practitioners in the field of alternative art spaces, artist-led projects and artists' organizations, the four-day convening investigated the contexts and conditions of artist-led culture across the country, exploring existing and emerging structures of support, and deepening peer-relationships. 

Art Production in Restriction. Possibilities of Transformative Art Production and Coalition-Building Seminar

Trondheim, Norway

Website

Curated by Rena Raedle and Vladan Jeremic (Belgrade), this closed seminar brought together artists, writers, critics, and curators from Europe and the US who are active in groups struggling for better working conditions in the arts, and in society at large. Its aim was to come up with a common method for organizing and coalition-building in the art world and beyond. Raedle & Jeremic were invited as guest curators at LevArt (Levanger) and RAM Galleri (Oslo) in 2015 as part of an ongoing project collaboration between the two institutions.

The Artist's Resale Right

New York, NY

Website

Organized by the newly formed W.A.G.E. Artists' Resale Rights Working Group, this event at Artists Space Books & Talks included presentations and disucssion with Dr. Theodore Feder and Janet Hicks of the Artists Rights Society, Maxwell Graham, Hans Haacke, Justice Barbara Jaffe, R.H. Quaytman, and Lauren van Haaften-Schick. 


In light of recent action at the congressional level concerning artists' resale rights, it provided a public forum for discussion around the proposed legislation of secondary market art sales in the US, locating these developments in relation to historical and international precedents and alternative models. 

Propeller Fund 2015

Chicago, IL

Website

Propeller Fund hosted application workshops and artist roundtables at Gallery 400, the University of Illinois. The weekend of events included a keynote by W.A.G.E. on May 1, and a roundtable discussion facilitated by W.A.G.E. with collectors, artists, and administrators, "On the Value of Art" on May 2.

Critical Citizenship: Activism and Art

Nottingham, UK

Website

Loughborough University's Anarchism Research Group and Politicized Practice Research Group presented the third in a series of events to showcase and critically discuss art activists' efforts to give a voice to the excluded, promote inclusive alternatives, and enrich global culture and citizenship. Speakers from W.A.G.E., Intern Labor Rights (both via Skype), and Precarious Workers Brigade presented recent work and discussed local conditions of their practices.

Art Handling Symposium

New York, NY

Website

Art Handler hosted a series of talks and presentations at ALLGOLD @ MoMA PS1 Print Shop, framing art as an industry and fostering dialog between art laborers and art producers. W.A.G.E. participated in the panel, 'Organized Art Workers' with Antonio Serna (OWS Arts & Labor), Stephen Sewell (Art Handlers Alliance) and Julian Tysh (Teamsters Local 814, Art Handlers Alliance), moderated by writer Brian Kuan Wood.

Dossier #3: W.A.G.E's online tool for determining compensation of digital artworks

New York, NY

Website

For Dossier #3, art-agenda invited W.A.G.E. to develop an online tool to set standards of compensation for artists developing online commissions. The project was launched by a discussion at e-flux on commissioning and producing, with W.A.G.E. (Lise Soskolne), Filipa Ramos, Stephanie Luce, Suhail Malik, and Andrew Ross.

Public Assets: small-scale arts organisations and the production of value

London, UK

Website

In collaboration with Andrea Phillips, Common Practice London presented a one-day conference at the University of the Arts. Speakers included: Jesús Carrillo, Kodwo Eshun, Charlotte Higgins, Maria Lind, Andrea Phillips and Lise Soskolne (W.A.G.E.). Watch W.A.G.E.'s contribution here.


The conference took up the ways in which small-scale arts organisations produce artistic value beyond measurability and quantification, provide spaces for public experience extra to the market, and in so doing contribute importantly to cultural wealth. In this way, small-scale arts organisations provide ample evidence of the necessity to build rather than diminish state funding for the arts as a core public asset. 

The Artist as Debtor: A Conference about the Work of Artists in the Age of Speculative Capitalism

New York, NY

Website

Artists Noah Fischer (member of Occupy Museums) and Coco Fusco presented a conference to discuss the art and the debt economy at The Great Hall of Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Featured speakers included artists Julieta Aranda, William Powhida, Martha Rosler, Gregory Sholette; writer Brian Kuan Wood, BFAMFAPHD, cultural theorist Andrew Ross, and W.A.G.E. Read W.A.G.E.'s contribution, On Merit, here.

How Creative Labor Should Be Compensated

New York, NY

Website

W.A.G.E. presented on W.A.G.E. Certification as part of Cue Art Foundation's workshop series 'If It's Not Work It Must Be Play', discussions on the state of work in the arts. CUE hosted labor economists, urban planners, activists, and financial consultants to analyze and respond to current conditions of work in the arts. Presented by CUE at the Joan Mitchell Foundation Art Education Center.

charge///practicum>>>

Houston, TX

Website

W.A.G.E. presented at charge///, a 2-day practicum at Art League Houston to: 1) platform and convene artist led alternative models; 2) open up conversations around equitable compensation of artists, and 3) consider artists' work in the larger economy.


The event featured a selection of local and national presenters (artists, curators, organizers, and researchers) commissioned to conceive and host discussions; direct actions, lectures, and workshops that explore conceptual, organizational, and economic models of sustaining one's art practice; engaging critically and generatively within the arts ecosystem as well as with broader communities; and advocating for equitable compensation along the way.

 

 

Out of Alternatives

New York, NY

Website

As part of the all-day conference at Artists Space Books & Talks, presented by Common Practice New York and the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, W.A.G.E. (represented by Lise Soskolne, core organizer, and Andrea Fraser, board member) presented W.A.G.E. Certification as conceived at the 2014 W.A.G.E. Summit in January, and prior to its launch in October of that year. W.A.G.E. presented alongside New York City Council Member Stephen Levin.

Composing Differences: Glass Bead

New York, NY

Website

Composing Differences was a program of MoMA PS1 that brought together artists, curators, and researchers establishing new platforms to experiment with art and knowledge production, which defend the circulation of knowledge and the immaterial value of art as a tool of social change. It was conceived in collaboration with Glass Bead, PAF, Council, and Open School East. 


At the invitation of Glass Bead, W.A.G.E. (Park McArthur, Lise Soskolne) and Occupy Museums (Tal Beery, Noah Fischer) were recorded in conversation for Glass Bead Radio Workshops at MoMA AV Recording Studio. Other guest speakers included philosopher Reza Negarestani, musicologist and mathematician Guerino Mazzola, Institute for Wishful Thinking (Maureen Connor, Andrea DeFelice) and Council (Sandra Terdjman, Grégory Castéra).  

 

 

Valuing Labor in the Arts: A Practicum

Berkeley, CA

Website

The Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley presented 'Valuing Labor in the Arts: A Practicum', a 2-day event hosting artist-led workshops in the UC Berkeley Museum of Art that developed exercises, prompts, or actions to engage questions of art, labor, and economics. 

 


The program also included a series of commissioned writings by critics and researchers whose work focuses on artistic labor and cultural economies in a special two-part issue of Art Practical, a leading Bay Area online platform. Both the publication and practicum asked: What kinds of tactics allow artists to create a sense of agency regarding the economics of creative production? What are the key questions artists should ask themselves in defining standards for valuing their labor? How might artists and cultural producers disseminate or appropriate successful models to accomplish their own projects? How do different artistic forms (visual, public, relational, choreographic, theatrical) engage and revise different types of art economies? 

 

Artists and writers include Caroline Woolard (OurGoods), Lise Soskolne (W.A.G.E.), Lane Relyea (Northwestern), Abigail Statinsky (Curator, threewalls, inCUBATE), Helena Keefe (Artist, "Standard Deviation," San Francisco/UCB), Julia Bryan-Wilson (UCB), Shannon Jackson (UCB), Eleanor Hanson-Wise (The Present Group), Lauren van Haaften-Schick (Curator, "Non-Participation," New York), Josh Clover (UC Davis, Village Voice), and many others. 

W.A.G.E. LA! Be Labored: A Frank Discussion with Olga Koumoundouros, Simon Leung + Marina Vishmidt

Berkeley, CA

Website

Co-organized with W.A.G.E., Human Resources' first ever membership event included a discussion with Olga Koumoundouros, Simon Leung + Marina Vishmidt, bookended with taco stand refreshments by Feed Us Fund Us, and locally brewed beer. 

ICP-Bard MFA Symposium 2013: Building a New Art World: Rethinking Conventional Practices

New York, NY

Website

W.A.G.E. spoke on a panel with Laurel Ptak, Magdalena Sawon, and Suhail Malik, moderated by Corinna Kirsch. This event was part of a student-organized conference at the International Center of Photography. 

What Do We Do Now?

New York, NY

Website

W.A.G.E. participated in The Alternatives Fair at Eyebeam, organized by the Alternative Economies Working Group within Arts & Labor. The fair aimed to connect and make visible entities and projects that provide alternative economic models based on mutual aid, cooperation, and other non-exploitative and non-oppressive practices for sustaining the livelihood of artists, art workers, and other populations. This was the first step in answering the question, What Do We Do Now? 

Simon Leung: ACTIONS!

New York, NY

Website

W.A.G.E. acted in Simon Leung's ACTIONS!, performed over two nights at The Kitchen. Using conventions of workers’ theater, academic conference, vaudeville, and postmodern dance, ACTIONS! gave thought to the questions, What is the role of the “art worker?” and What constitutes an “art action?” by looking again at moments when "actions" have been directed at the Museum of Modern Art. 


Spec in the 1960/70s by groups such as the Art Workers’ Coalition and Guerilla Art Action Group, when art activism was tied to civil rights and anti-war movements; and then in the year 2000, when members of the Professional and Administrative Staff Association (PASTA) at MoMA, which included curators, librarians, sales staff, editors and others, staged a four month-long labor strike. Originally inspired by the 2000 strike, ACTIONS! also returns to the recent past of the last two years, when protests in the art world by activist groups such as Occupy Museums and Occupy Wall Street Arts & Labor bring to bear the conditions of working in the art world today. Among collaborators reconsidering the intersection of art, labor, community, and politics today are union members, museum workers, activists, and artists, including Yvonne Rainer, Arlen Austin, Kabir Carter, Benj Gerdes, Sasha Sumner, Pat Catterson, Marina Urbach, Valerie Tevere & Angel Nevarez, Beth Whitney, Chris Kasper, Julian Tysh, Carina Evangelista, David Kelley, Filip Noterdaeme, Lumi Tan, Marcus Civin, Burns Magruder, Benjamin Young, W.A.G.E., and Andrea Fraser. Saturday’s performance concluded with a live discussion among participants including Leung and Julia Bryan-Wilson, moderated by Tim Griffin. Admission was based on MoMA policies in the year 2000.

Collective Action Archive: Exhibition and Symposium

Purchase, NY

Website

The New Media program at Purchase College, SUNY and Franklin Street Works in Stamford, CT together presented the exhibition "Collective Action Archive" at Purchase College. In addition to participating in the exhibition, W.A.G.E. presented in a symposium at the Neuberger Museum with author, artist, and activist Gregory Sholette, and Brian House of the Knifeandfork collective.

 

BYO: Working Conditions Paradox of Labor and the Creative Industry

Cambridge, MA

Website

As part of the BYO talk series at Harvard University's Carpenter Center, playwright and journalist Alexis Clements, Jesal Kapadia, artist and professor at MIT's Program in Art, Culture and Technology, and W.A.G.E. each gave brief presentations followed by a co-faciliated open discussion.
 
 


BYO's framing of the event: The sphere of art has become newly bound to post-industrial economic structures, where terms such as "creativity" now circulate as hard currency in the branding of corporations and universities alike. The increasing value placed on cultural capital (in Pierre Bourdieu's formulation), and the rise of the so-called "experience economy" have blurred lines between production and consumption, making it increasingly difficult to define what constitutes work, and to identify who is working, and to what ends. Working Conditions brings together three artists and practitioners engaged in challenging the notion of "work" in an increasingly individualistic and creative economy. 

W.A.G.E. Delivers a Speech at the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt

Frankfurt, Germany

Website

Along with Franco Bifo Berardi, Liliane Weissberg, Claire Pentecost, and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, W.A.G.E. delivered a speech at a dinner organized by Andrea Büttner as part of her solo exhibition at the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt. Read the speech here.

Arts & Labor 2013 Strategy Discussion

New York, NY

Website

Day 2 in a two-part discussion organized by Arts & Labor at CUNY Murphy Institute, workers from the Queens Museum, Creative Capital, ProjectProjects, and W.A.G.E. responded to the Day 1 discussion and talked about strategies used to build community, advocate for artists and create sustainable institutions. 

W.A.G.E. & Artists Space present a Talk by Marion von Osten Followed by a Conversation with Andrew Ross ++ plus New Developments in W.A.G.E. Certification ++

New York, NY

Website

Originally scheduled for March 27, 2012 this was the third in a series of public forums contributing to W.A.G.E. and Artists Space's Research Partnership. 


A brief presentation by W.A.G.E. summarizing recent developments in the conception of its certification program was followed by curator, artist and writer Marion von Osten's presentation on the current conditions of artist labor in relation to the formation of creative and cultural industries. Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU, provided responses to von Osten's talk and located W.A.G.E.'s advocacy in a broader discourse around the economies of creative labor.

Truth is Concrete

Graz, Austria

Website

A project by the steirischer herbst festival, Truth is Concrete was a 24/7 marathon camp on artistic strategies in politics and political strategies in art that took place from September 21-28 in Graz, Austria. 


W.A.G.E. participated in 'Neither working nor unworking: Contemporary politics of art and labour', hosted by Kuba Szreder (PL), with presentations by Hans Abbing (NL), Janek Sowa & Michał Kozłowski / Free Slow University Warsaw (PL), Adrienne Goehler (D), Ellen Blumenstein / Haben & Brauchen (D), Joanna Figiel (GB/PL) & Stevphen Shukaitis / Minor Compositions (GB/USA), and Precarious Workers Brigade (GB), and W.A.G.E. (USA).

Public Meeting in Glasgow with W.A.G.E.

Glasgow, Scotland

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This public meeting at The Art School (New Vic) was organized by artists Charlotte Prodger & Corin Sworn in conjunction with the Scottish Artists Union to address the need for artists' exhibition fees in non-profit art institutions in Glasgow and beyond. 


The line-up included an introduction Charlotte Prodger & Corin Sworn, an overview of W.A.G.E. by Core Organizer Lise Soskolne, short presentations by Corin Sworn, Isla Leaver-Yap (Freelance Curator) and the Scottish Artists Union, followed by an open discussion.

W.A.G.E. Survey Release: Presentation and Open Forum

New York, NY

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As part of W.A.G.E.'s Research Partnership with Artists Space, this event presented the results and analysis of the 2010 W.A.G.E. Survey. With special appearance by economic sociologist Alison Gerber. Free food was provided by FEAST/Brooklyn and survey posters were distributed. Dowload a poster and read more about the 2010 W.A.G.E. Survey here.

Feeling the Shape of the Arts Economy: Think Tank Coalition/Agenda Formation/Alliance Building Marathon

New York, NY

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This was the first in a series of programs presented by W.A.G.E. in conjunction with Artists Space in New York as part of a Research Partnership between the two organizations. After a brief introduction to W.A.G.E. Certification, artist, economist, and sociologist Hans Abbing, author of Why are Artists Poor: The Exceptional Economy of the Arts presented on his current work


Abbing's presentation and Q & A were followed by a sustenance break with homemade soup, bread and drinks. The evening culminated in a town hall meeting, engaging the public in an open-ended discussion that contributed to framing the agenda for upcoming programs and the formation of W.A.G.E. Certification.

Off the Clock: Working with Flexible Labor, Social Networks and Everyday Life

New York, NY

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Coordinated by Silvershed at Art in General, W.A.G.E. participated in a panel discussion with Summer Guthery (The Chrysler Series) Rose Marcus (The Dependent Art Fair) Jackson Moore (The Public School New York) James Voorhies (Bureau for Open Culture), moderated by Liam Gillick. 


The panel addressed questions including: How do recent lateral, collaborative projects, ranging from artist-run spaces to curatorial initiatives to knowledge communities, counter the information/service-based economy and its elements of fluid social networks, entrepreneurial spirit, flexible labor management and interactions with daily life? Or do these art projects and communities utilize these factors and build upon them—in turn aligning with this mode rather than producing a disarming critique? 

e-flux book launch for "Are You Working Too Much? Post-Fordism, Precarity, and the Labor of Art"

New York, NY

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The New York launch of the journal Are You Working Too Much? Post-Fordism, Precarity, and the Labor of Art took place at the STAGE on the STEPS @ MoMA PS1, presented by the e-flux book co-op at NY Art Book Fair. To mark the occasion, W.A.G.E. presented a live reading followed by a self reflexive Q+A, and Liam Gillick read from Construction of One: A Manuscript (2011).

Aesthetics in Protests

New York

This panel at the New School's Lang Auditorium focused on the aesthetic tropes activists use to express political dissent. With Mark Herbst, Journal of Aesthetics; Beka Economopoulos from Not An Alternative; Chris Mansour, Platypus The Artist-Citizen, Advocating Change, and W.A.G.E. 


Theatrical gestures such as street art (e.g., glamdalism), dance parties (e.g., Funk the War), or costumes have found their way into protest tactics. Simultaneously, many contemporary artists create 'activist' or 'social' art by pulling off media pranks against the government or corporations (e.g., Yes Men), reenact past protests (e.g., Mark Tribe or Sharon Hayes) and other forms of public performances. Guiding questions included: What are the historical roots that contribute to the use of current aesthetic interventions in political protests? In what ways do they expand or limit the possibilities for protests to transform the social order? How does experimenting with aesthetic and artistic sensibilities influence our political consciousness and practice?

The Artist Theater Program: A Group Show Of Film And Video Work By Visual Artists

Los Angeles, CA

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Along with Math Bass, Shannon Ebner, Alice Konitz, Adam Putnam, and Lucy Raven, W.A.G.E. took part in a screening & debate at RedCat Theater about artistic concepts and practices, to challenge some common assumptions such as "Experimental filmmakers want to be marginal," "Artists make a lot of money," "Experimental filmmakers have a subject when they start and an end in mind," "Artists blissfully ignore film history," and "These works have no form!"

An evening with W.A.G.E. and CARFAC at the New Museum

New York, NY

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In conversation with CARFAC (Canadian Artists' Representation/Le Front des Artistes Canadiens) Executive Director, April Britski, and curator Lauren Cornell at the New Museum, W.A.G.E. discussed its Certification of the exhibition Free, as well as the payment practices of non-profit institutions in the US and Canada. 

First Official W.A.G.E. Certification

New York, NY

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Working in conjunction with curator Lauren Cornell, W.A.G.E secured an artist fee for each participating artist (separate and in addition to the coverage of expenses) for the exhibition Free, on view at the New Museum from October 20, 2010 - January 23, 2011. This represents W.A.G.E.'s first certification, and its only certification of a single exhibition.

The Creative Time Summit: Revolutions In Public Practice II

New York, NY

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W.A.G.E. spoke at The Creative Time Summit: Revolutions In Public Practice II, held at The Cooper Union, and participated in a panel discussion about institutions with Danielle Abrams, Chen Chieh-Jen (represented by Amy Cheng), Andrea Fraser, and Otabenga Jones & Associates.

Launch of the 2010 W.A.G.E. Survey

New York's Five Boroughs, NY

W.A.G.E. launched two online surveys targeting the exhibition experiences of visual and performance artists who had worked in New York with either or both Small to Medium Non-profit Institutions and Large Non-Profit Institutions and Museums between 2005-2010.


The purpose of these surveys was to compile information about the economic experiences of artists in order to bring greater transparency to the economic practices of institutions in New York City, and to establish a more just and sustainable relationship between artists and arts organizations. Read the January 11th e-flux announcement here, and about the 2010 W.A.G.E. Survey here.

May Day Event

Los Angeles, CA

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Drawing on May Day's celebratory and labor-oriented themes, Human Resources' May Day Event showcased performances from musical artists Mad Gregs and Wounded Lion; performance collective My Barbarian; performance artists, Lucy Indiana Dodd, Corey Fogel and Dawn Kasper; and video presentations from Sharon Hayes and W.A.G.E.

The Artist-Citizen, Advocating Change

New York, NY

W.A.G.E. spoke on a panel moderated by Zeffrey Throwell, with Steven Lambert and Carin Kuoni at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. 


Discussion subjects included: How can artists determine how to maneuver within the existing societal structure to achieve reliable, long lasting support both politically and socially. How can artists realize that individuals can hone power to implement change? What are the resources that artists may utilize to understand the rights and opportunities that already exist? What are some examples of artists who have advocated for more support and have succeeded? What are steps artists can take to achieve greater agency for themselves? 

#Class Teach-In

New York, NY

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#Class was organized by artists William Powhida and Jen Dalton at Winkleman Gallery, turning the space into a 'think tank' for guest artists, critics, academics, dealers, collectors, and anyone else interested in examining the way art is made, seen, and sold in our culture.

Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner

New York, NY

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At the invitation of Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner, W.A.G.E. held an open teach-in, consciousness-raising, and fruitful, fruity discussion at the Whitney Independent Study Program. Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner was a series of feminist gatherings initiated by Malin Arnell and Johanna Gustavsson in New York in 2009-2010. 

 

Navigating the Art of Change

Brooklyn, NY

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W.A.G.E. participated in (crashed?) the Grantmakers in the Arts Annual National Conference, '2009 RECESSION Conference: Navigating the Art of Change'.

 

Back to New Deal Funding?

London, UK

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W.A.G.E. spoke on panel with DD Guttenplan and Christoph Thun-Hohenstein at the 2009 Frieze Art Fair in London, UK. Moderated by Jenni Lomax, the discussion took up the question: what are the pros and cons of state-funded art and cultural production at a moment of severe economic crisis?

W.A.G.E. Consciousness Coffee Klatch

New York, NY

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At Printed Matter’s 2009 NY Art Book Fair at PS1 (not yet MoMA PS1), W.A.G.E. hosted a discussion of current issues and gave an overview of progress, actions, movements, complaints, relevant current events, and feelings. W.A.G.E. invited people to "come have a cup of coffee with us and stimulate your economic power as an artist and/or cultural worker. Klatch will conclude with a W.A.G.E. t-shirt spray paint stencil session, bring your own or we'll provide one."

Time-Based Art (TBA) Festival

Portland, OR

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Hosted by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), W.A.G.E. advocated that fair payment practices be established for visual artists, performers, and independent curators in the US.

No Soul For Sale: A Festival Of Independents

New York

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"Held at X Initiative, NO SOUL FOR SALE – A Festival Of Independents brought together the most exciting, creative and respected not-for-profit centers, alternative institutions, artists’ collectives and independent enterprises from around the world that contribute to the international art scene by inventing new strategies for the distribution of information and by supporting a diverse cultural program." Hm. We participated. And then X Initiative asked us to 'review' the experience for publication in Charley Magazine. We did. They never wrote back. Read W.A.G.E.'s unpublished contributions here and here.

Arts Funding for Sustainable Creative Practice

New York

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At NYU's Barney Building, W.A.G.E. spoke on a panel with Ruby Lerner (President, Creative Capital), Katie Hollander (Deputy Director, Creative Time), Tim Cynova (incoming Deputy Director, Fractured Atlas), Jeff Hnilicka (Founder, FEAST [Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics]), and Bryce Dwyer (InCUBATE, Chicago IL). 


Organized and moderated by Tracy Candido, a Master's candidate in Steinhardt's Visual Culture Theory program and founder of Sweet Tooth of the Tiger's Bake Sale Residency for Artists, a mini grant for artists who like to bake.

SESSIONS Open Teach-in

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

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W.A.G.E. held an open teach-in at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. This event was an extension of graduate student Katerina Llanes' thesis project, SESSIONS.

W.A.G.E.'s Third Public Meeting

New York, NY

Judson Memorial Church, New York.

W.A.G.E.'s Second Public Meeting

New York, NY

Judson Memorial Church, New York.

W.A.G.E.'s First Public Meeting

New York, NY

W.A.G.E.'s first public meeting at Judson Memorial Church, New York. Vintage W.A.G.E. grafik flier here.

Creative Time Democracy Convergence Center

New York, NY

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W.A.G.E.'s first ever public appearance was at Creative Time's Convergence Center at the Park Avenue Armory, the culmination of the year-long program 'Democracy in America: The National Campaign'. The Convergence Center was an activated space for both reflecting on and performing democracy. Including a major exhibition, participatory project space, and meeting hall, it was a site for speeches by political thinkers as well as community leaders and activists. Watch W.A.G.E's speech here.

First W.A.A.G.E. formations

New York, NY

Various apartments and studios.