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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Three simple rues of life:

1. If you do not go after what you want, you will never have it

2. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.

3. If you do not step forward, you’ll always be in the same place.

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Those of you attending the Ennis Street Festival this Saturday will be sure to come across one of these flyers.

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Citizenship is a constant enactment of membership defined by a negotiation of status as a legitimate occupant in the public sphere. (Barnes, Auburn, Lea 2004)

Citizenship is a status which one must struggle to attain in the face of competing versions of what is propper to struggle for. (Shotter 1993)

psst…public

psst…public was established on the 5th of July 2012. Its main motivations are:

PUBLIC Space (rights) SOCIAL Engagement SPATIAL Practice THOUGHT Provoking

hence psst…

This project is the practical manifestation of a thesis written on Spatial Practices as part of the requirements for a Masters in Social Practice in the Creative Environment at the Limerick School of Art and Design.

psst… is an attempt to expand the collective experience of spatial practice and social engagement and asks some hard questions of us as members of a society.

With a particular interest in public space, projects intend to widen our general notion of public space, access to it, management and design of it as well as legislation describing it.

As the increasingly privatised management of public spaces is a concern, projects should address this issue and bring it to public consciousness in order to enable the public to stake greater claim on public spaces before they are totally lost to commercial agendas.

psst aims to become a method for empowerment. It is an invitation for people to engage and become more conscious so that we may utilize public space as a place for imagining and realizing the kind of society we want to collectively live in.

Wo/manifesto (this is lifted from their site. (http://www.wageforwork.com)

W.A.G.E. works to draw attention to economic inequalities that exist in the arts, and to resolve them.W.A.G.E. has been formed because we, as visual + performance artists and independent curators, provide a work force.W.A.G.E. recognizes the organized irresponsibility of the art market and its supporting institutions, and demands an end of the refusal to pay fees for the work we’re asked to provide: preparation, installation, presentation, consultation, exhibition and reproduction.W.A.G.E. refutes the positioning of the artist as a speculator and calls for the remuneration of cultural value in capital value.

W.A.G.E. believes that the promise of exposure is a liability in a system that denies the value of our labor. As an unpaid labor force within a robust art market from which others profit greatly, W.A.G.E. recognizes an inherent exploitation and demands compensation.

W.A.G.E. calls for an address of the economic inequalities that are prevalent, and pro-actively preventing the art worker’s ability to survive within the greater economy.

W.A.G.E. advocates for developing an environment of mutual respect between artist & institution. We demand payment for making the world more interesting.

Founded in 2008, Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) is a New York-based activist group whose advocacy is currently focused on regulating the payment of artist fees by nonprofit art institutions and establishing a sustainable model for best practices between cultural producers and the institutions that contract their labor.

W.A.G.E. Survey Report Summary

Introduction
The purpose of the W.A.G.E. Survey was to gather information about the economic experiences of visual and performing artists exhibiting in nonprofit exhibition spaces and museums in New York City between 2005 and 2010. The survey was distributed in two parts: one that gathered information about small to medium sized nonprofit arts organizations and another that gathered information about large nonprofit arts organizations and museums; the questions and structure of each were identical and only differed by their lists of institutions.The survey was launched on September 22, 2010 and remained open until May 1, 2011. It collected responses anonymously, and was distributed via Web and Email outreach using W.A.G.E.’s mailing list, Facebook, various LISTSERVS, and an e-flux announcement. The combined reach of these mailings was to approximately 50,000 people. A total of 731 respondents provided data about Small to Medium Nonprofit Institutions, while 246 respondents provided data about Large Nonprofit Institutions and Museums.This summary report was commissioned by W.A.G.E. and compiled by Sherry X. Xian of the Survey Research Institute at Cornell University. Her analysis combines the data of both surveys unless otherwise indicated and provides analysis and summary information only where significant differentiation within the data was noted. Data from both surveys was combined and analyzed by: Number of Artists, Gender, Age, and Size of Institution.Demographics
Demographic information is representative of the 977 respondents who began the survey but not necessarily of those who provided specific information about their payment experiences, since only 577 of those who answered demographic questions also exhibited in a nonprofit arts institution between 2005-2010.• 43% were between 31 to 40 years old.
• 60% were male and about 2% were trans-gender.
• 46% did not rent a studio outside of their residence.
• 26% spent less than $5,000 in annual studio rent.

Number of Artists who received Any Form of Payment
• On average, the majority (58.4%) of respondents did not receive any form of payment, compensation or reimbursement for their participation, including the coverage of any expenses.

Number of Artists who received Any Form of Payment relative to the Number of Artists in the Exhibition
Respondents were asked to define the size of the exhibition within three different categories: solo exhibition, 2-5 artists and 6 artists or more. Results were compared using the number of artists in an exhibition as a factor.

• For solo exhibitions, 73% reported that they received some form of payment while 27% received no payment.
• For exhibitions involving 2-5 artists, compensation occurred 53% of the time.
• For exhibitions with 6 or more artists, 69% did not receive any form of compensation.

Any Form of Payment by Institution
This data illustrates whether or not artists received any form of payment, compensation or reimbursement from specific institutions, including the coverage of any expenses. The institutions included in this table are those for which there were 4 or more respondents.

Significantly more respondents received some form of payment from:
• Creative Time (87.5% vs. 12.5% who did not)
• Sculpture Center (83% vs. 17% who did not)
• Socrates Sculpture Park (86% vs. 14% who did not)
• The Kitchen (100% received payment).

Significantly more respondents reported that they did not receive any form of payment from:
• Exit Art (88.5% vs. 11.5% who did)
• Performa (92.3% vs. 7.7% who did)

Type of Exhibition and Size of Artist Fee Received
When respondents reported having received an honorarium or artist fee for their participation in an exhibition, separate from the coverage of any shipping, installation or travel expenses, they were asked to define the amount of within 9 ranges. The following notes any significant differences within those ranges.

• For solo exhibitions, 26% received an artist fee anywhere between $2,000 and $4,999, while 19% did not receive any honorarium.
• For exhibitions involving 2-5 artists, 47% received an honorarium between $100 and $500, while 22% did not receive any artist fee.
• For exhibitions involving 6 or more artists, 48% received less than $300 honorarium, while 40% did not receive a fee.

Number of Respondents per Institution
• P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center had the highest percentage of respondents (7%). This may have occurred because P.S.1 was listed on both surveys in error.
• A total of 18% of respondents reported that they did not exhibit in any non-profit institution between 2005 and 2010.
• 18% of respondents exhibited in non-profit institutions not listed in the survey. These institutions were compiled and listed together in an ‘Other’ category.

Amount of Artist fee Received by Institution
This analysis does not indicate differences in the size of the artist fee received in relation to the size of exhibition. It provides analysis of the artist fee received by specific institutions.

• There was no significant difference between the ranges of payment between the two surveys, which were separated into Small to Medium Institutions and Large Institutions and Museums.
• 44% of those who exhibited at P.S.1. Contemporary Art Center, and 50% of those who exhibited at Queens Museum of Art reported that they did not receive an artist fee or honorarium.
• All of those who exhibited at Smack Mellon received an artist fee or honorarium, with 43% receiving between $100 and $299, and another 43% receiving between $1,500 and $5,000.
• 59% of respondents who indicated that they exhibited in ‘other’ small to medium sized nonprofit institutions received artist fees ranging from $25 to $300, while 18% did not receive any.

Coverage of Installation Expenses
Respondents were asked how much of their installation expenses were covered by the institution using four different categories: None, Partial, All, and Had No Expenses.

• 42% were fully covered by institutions for their installation expenses.
• 34% were partially covered.
• 10% were not covered.
• The remaining 14% had no installation expenses.

Gender differences in the Coverage of Travel Expenses
• 69% of female respondents reported that they did not have any travel expenses, and of the remaining 31% who did, only 10% of them were partially or fully compensated for their expenses.
• 45% of male respondents reported that they did not have any travel expenses, and of the remaining 55% who did, 50% of them were partially or fully compensated for their expenses.

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This is a tiny survey!!! With one glaring omission, how do these artist supplement their incomes. A line should be drawn between artist who see their art as a creative outlet for their spare time outside of a day job and artists who make a good living from their art as well as those who claim social assistance to make up the difference.

The intentions of this group of people are mighty but what are the consequences of all this?

The group intends to establish work contracts, trackable work methodologies and thus fair wages for creatives. This uber capitalist approach to managing cultural production seems to play nicely into the hands of the capitalist honcho at the top. Is that what we strive for?

Are we well served by an approach that compensates us for our creative output which we supposedly do for the love of it? Is it still valid to value object art? Is this where we still derive value from?….seen as the artist is now branching out to officially fulfill roles of social engagement and social transformation should the artist be entitled to a source of income that is not for his/her artistic merit but for playing a part in the project of social cohesion?

From my own experience as a designer I feel those projects which I class as artistic and socially engaged are labours of love and I do not seek financial compensation for my time spent creating them. On the other hand I see my skills as a designer as extremely valuable and refuse to do spec work. I am making a destination here between the commercial aspect of my life and the creative social/cultural/human/connectedness which I view to be social endeavors of happiness. I do not think I can buy happiness, therefore I do not think people should pay me under the pretense of buying happiness or social engagement or meaningful experience.

That is not to say that I drop the creative/social/cultural/human and so on part of me when I pursue design work, of course I retain all those aspects and infuse my work with those experiences. What I am thinking though is that projects which I participate in with other people are collective works, they would not function without all those other inputs. Therefore if there is to be a wage paid, could I claim it all to be for me? Yes I am the instigator of the experience but I am not a lone operator. For me mutual inspiration is a very real entity in this regard. This is the gray area of cultural production and social engagement which makes it so very interesting but possibly so very difficult to value.

Court 13 is a grassroots, independent filmmaking army – a collective of madcap artists and animators of junk that seek to tell huge stories out of small parts. Tales spring from groups of real people on the margins, and adaptation to screen demands that we live the extremes of the story, not just tell about them. Court 13 values “do it yourself” not as a matter of financial circumstance but as a spiritual requirement; each film poses huge, painstaking challenges that defy the gods, nature, and just plain common sense. But hopefully from the wreckage comes treasure–a movie for the masses, borne of love and pain, that makes you feel like a kid again. We make films about communities, as a community. We listen to Sam Cooke, can beat you in racquetball, and beast on Sriracha sauce by the gallon. Our captain is Jimmy Lee Moore, and our newest officer is a pig named Hushpuppy. And New Orleans is our home.

Court 13 was born in defiance of academic regulations, fire codes, and health laws. The army was originally assembled on the set of Benjamin Harold Zeitlin’s senior thesis film, an 8 minute combination stop motion / live action movie called “egg.” A re-telling of Moby Dick that takes place on the restless waves inside a bird-child’s stomach, “egg” brought together many for the common purpose of feeding conveyor belt cafeteria food to sweaty actors in bird make-up, and forcing a mouse into poor Sara Bremen’s mouth. Benh joined forces with Ray Tintori, then a sophomore, on the stop motion clay-mation, spending days on end animating meat tongues and affixing eyeballs, for mere seconds of footage. When the fire marshall beheld the scene in Benh’s basement on Vine Street, he declared it the worst fire hazard he’d ever seen. The production, and spirit, moved to an abandoned squash court – the titular Court 13.

Benh graduated but the resolve of the Court did not. They gathered and multiplied for Ray’s short film “Jettison Your Loved Ones” which imagines Court friend Max Goldblatt as a man addicted to pressing the Restart button on his life. Boxing, choir music, and The Future play an integral role. During Ray’s senior year, we collaborated on another, epic, all-consuming thesis film in name only, about the tale of Tin Woodsmen of Oz, called “Death to the Tinman.” For it we constructed (and crashed) a to-scale flying machine, created a giant (Robo)copper suit for the Tin Man, and coaxed a maniacal performance out of Ray’s high school English teacher.

Meanwhile, in the menagerie of liberal arts post-grads known as Brooklyn, Benh continued to make movies in his basement–specifically, “The Origins of Electricity,” about… well, a movie in a basement, that horrifies every light bulb that sneaks downstairs to watch it. To make ends meet, Benh taught some of the Isle of Manahattoes’ youngsters how to make cinema at an after school program at the Grace Church School; and so came “I Get Wet,” a parable about popularity and atonement.

In the fall of 2006, after an ill-fated (but much enjoyed) summer attempting to make a documentary about a baseball team in Lithuania, the Court found roots in New Orleans, where amongst hurricane ruins Benh and Ray conceived the story of “Glory at Sea.” The Crescent City’s spirit of revelry in the face of destruction fit the Court mantra like a dirty old glove, and the group infused the movie with real characters, stories, objects, and places from Katrina-torn New Orleans. Casting was largely done out of a neighborhood bar called Buffa’s, and the infamous boat and its memorial cargo were cobbled together out of scraps found in discarded curbside heaps. Just as the junk raft set sail in the movie, so did it on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans — but only after many trials, and even more errors. (A direct quote from the Coast Guard: “This is not a boat, this is the least seaworthy vessel I’ve ever seen floating.”) What was supposed to be a 7 minute, $7000 movie ended up eclipsing 5 months in production, 3 work stoppages due to lack of money, and a 25 minute run time. The final result (and that it saw light at all) is a testament to the generosity of thousands in New Orleans who came together and put their blood, sweat, and soul into it. The finished film premiered at the Prytania Theatre in New Orleans in March 2008, to the relief and great joy of all involved. “Glory at Sea” went on to play around the world, and scoop up a few awards on the way.

After “Glory” had wrapped, the Court reconfigured and rebuilt itself for a series of music videos that Ray’ directed for Chairlift and MGMT among others, including “Time to Pretend”“Electric Feel”, and most notoriously, “Kids”filmed at Court headquarters in New Orleans. The latter (and this picture) led to many unfortunate and unfounded rumors that Mr. Tintori scares children, but it also grabbed the attention and support of cinematic stepfather Spike Jonze, who as a result will be helping Ray develop projects for the near future.
As for the rest of the crew, we’re still here in New Orleans, having worked on and currently working on Benh’s first feature film, and having started a parallel Court 13 Acting/Moviemaking School for area kids, founded on the Grace Church experience. From it came three short, “I Get Wet”-like films that premiered this summer: “Scaredy Cat Superheroes”“Detention = Doom”, and “The Big Hide-and-Go-Seek.”

The feature, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” is a huge story about the end of the world as seen from a sinking bayou village on the southern edge of the country, where everyone laughs in the face of certain doom. It’s an alumnus of the Sundance Screenwriting, Directing, and Producing Labs, where the Court has received generous counsel from the high priests of the independent film world. Both the movie and its making have proven to be an adventure where life and limb are risked for the sake of community, culture, and everlasting glory.