ART WITHOUT ARTISTS: AGAINST THE ARTIST CEO
by Eunsong Kim and Maya Mackrandilal
Maya Mackrandilal and Eunsong Kim write some of the sharpest, take-no-prisoners pieces about art and labor out there. This one tackles the idea of the Artist CEO, icon of hyper-capitalist art in action. They ask us to consider: How are capitalist frameworks, languages, roles, and identities limiting the way we pursue artistic careers? Why do MBA/MFAs elevate conceptual management over material labor? How can we reclaim a position of power for embodied labor?
"We’ve reached a point where even the performance of labor is rendered irrelevant. The idea is the only thing that matters. This is the moment where art becomes the realization of the capitalist dream. Sure, Sol Lewit thought he was liberating artists from the market, but the market likes Sol Lewit just fine. And how fitting, just in time to celebrate the triumph of capitalism over communism and the end of history."
"The artist is the CEO. Detached from labor. Detached from work. Labor demands sacrifice: our bodies, our time. It demands a small portion of ourselves, or lives, in it we confront our own mortality. There is a kind of immortality in ideas: the mythos of the Cartesian split. Poor people have bodies, their labor is extracted. Rich people have wealth management, their money does all the work, generation after generation."
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This blog is a collection of research and reflections produced in the planning of the Art + Value Conversations. It includes histories of artist labor organizing and activism in the US and abroad, advocacy toolkits for artists, personal narratives, and academic articles. We hope it will be a useful resource for Chicago artists to frame the Art + Value Conversations