Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.)

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Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.)

Saturday, October 21, 2017 | 1PM

ArtCenter/Downtown

1035 N. Miami Avenue Suite 300, Miami, FL 33136

Free with RSVP.

Join us for a lecture by Lise Soskolne, artist and core organizer of W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), a NY based activist organization that establishes sustainable economic relationships between artists and the institutions that contract their work.

“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.”

This program is presented as part of The Recalibrated Institution, ArtCenter’s fall Fellowship Program in collaboration with the Bureau for Cultural Strategies (BUX).


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Lise Soskolne is an artist living and working in New York City. She is the core organizer of Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.), an activist organization whose mission is to establish sustainable economic relationships between artists and the institutions that contract their labor, and to introduce mechanisms for self-regulation into the art field that collectively bring about a more equitable distribution of its economy.

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