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IOKMO_bookcoverThis publication gathers together traces from the first iteration of this exhibition, which took place in Houston in the spring of 2016. It is intended to offer a bridge between that exhibition, and the one at Optica in the spring of 2017.

Cette publication réunit des traces de la première itération de l’exposition, qui s’est tenue à Houston (É-U) au printemps 2016. La publication se veut un pont entre cette première itération et celle qui a lieu à Optica au printemps 2017.

For hard copies, please contact nicoleburisch(at)gmail(dot)com.
PDF copy available to download here.

**UPDATE – February 12, 2018 – Thanks to everyone who has shared and commented on this letter. Please feel free to use, adapt, circulate. I am also open to feedback on how to improve/strengthen the wording. This letter was informed by ongoing conversations I’ve been having about artistic/academic labour with other cultural workers, so please check out the links to see some of the sources. There are lots of groups out there working on these issues already, and I’m pasting a list below that’s adapted from an earlier project. **

Dear________,

Thank you for thinking of me and extending the invitation to contribute to your project.

Perhaps you are already familiar with the ongoing conversations around precarious labour in both academic and artistic fields, but this is an issue that is very dear to my heart and I made a choice a while ago to not work for free. I’m a bit surprised that a ____________ focused on ______________ would be continuing to perpetuate the idea that working for ‘exposure’ is fair compensation.

Writing, research, editing, _______, ________, and administrating are all WORK. In Canada, we have an organization called CARFAC that sets minimum fees for any kind of artistic work, and in the U.S., W.A.G.E has been advocating for similar practices in museums and institutions there.

Those of us working in the field of  _________________ are also affected by the pressures of economic precarity and the undervaluing of our work, whether working in academia, for institutions, or as independent producers. When we work for free, we perpetuate the idea that our labour is not ‘real work’ and reinforce the conditions where only those who can afford to work for free are able to continue. It should go without saying that these labour conditions disproportionately affect women, people of colour, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ folks.

Perhaps these are issues that you might also consider addressing in your __________.

Best of luck with your project,

 

 


See also:

Carrot Workers
Precarious Workers Brigade
Republicart
FUSE
Should I Work For Free
Hyperallergic
Sarah Wookey’s letter
Broken City Lab
Ragpickers
BFAMFAPHD
Who Pays Artists, Bad At Sports
Standard Deviation
Art Work

 

Invited contribution for Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture (Taylor and Francis) special issue on “Crafting Community” edited by Kirsty Robertson and Lisa Vinebaum.

Abstract
Traditional craft practice has long emphasized features of function and materiality, with the useful and skillfully produced object at the center of the way craft is read and understood. However, a number of recent exhibitions and artworks have included not just objects, but also craft set in motion through participatory projects or performances. Correspondingly, the crafted object has undergone a shift in its once-central role, serving instead as a record of an event or process, a prop or tool, and in some cases disappearing altogether. Through a consideration of select projects and curatorial strategies from Common Threads at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery in Calgary, AB (2008), and Gestures of Resistance at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR (2010), this article argues that it is necessary to consider how the histories and theories of performance art are intersecting with contemporary craft practices, with a particular focus on the role of documentation and ephemeral traces.

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Instant Coffee, Bass Benches. Common Threads, curated by Lee Plested at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Calgary, AB. November 22, 2007 to January 5, 2008. Photo courtesy of Illingworth Kerr Gallery.

Never Enough / Jamais Assez: on documentation, proximity, and Nadège Grebmeier Forget’s SUITE  from the series One on one’s for so-called fans
A text responding to a performance by Nadège Grebmeier Forget, published in the 2015 Core Program catalog

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“In describing the challenges of writing about performances “in absentia,” Amelia Jones has argued that, “the problems raised by my absence… are largely logistical rather than ethical or hermeneutic. That is, while the experience of viewing a photograph and reading a text is clearly different from that of sitting in a small room watching an artist perform, neither has a privileged relationship to the historical ‘truth’ of the performance.”[1] Building upon this claim, I am interested in thinking through what it means to work with/within the logistical problems of absence. This text uses multiple and multiplying forms of documentation to negotiate my distance from the performance, less with the goal of providing a conclusive account of the event, but in a way that might hold a space for all the conflicting, affective, awkward, messy, unofficial, intimate, embodied, compromised, personal, and subjective versions of the performance.”

Download the full PDF here.

[1] Amelia Jones, “‘Presence’ in absentia: Experiencing Performance as Documentation,” Art Journal 56, no. 4, (Winter, 1997): 1

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The New Politics of the Handmade: Craft, Art and Design
is a forthcoming publication on contemporary craft politics edited by Anthea Black and Nicole Burisch.

The New Politics of the Handmade examines the role of contemporary art, craft and design as part of a dramatically shifting global economy. Current interest in virtually every aspect of the handmade appears in Do-It-Yourself, Craftivism, sustainable living, decolonial practices and aesthetics, and a new focus on labour and materiality in visual art and museums. The handmade has become inseparable from capitalist modes of production and consumption, and this change demands new understandings of objects, aesthetics and labour. New writing and artists projects by international scholars and practitioners look at the politics of scarcity, hoarding and sustainability, craftivism and ‘ethical’ consumption, urban space and new technologies, race, cultural heritage and sovereignty. The authors offer a radical rethink of the politics and economics of the handmade, and claim craft as a dynamic critical field for thinking through the most immediate issues of our time.

About the editors:

Anthea Black is an artist and cultural worker based in San Francisco and Toronto, Canada. Her writing has been published by Bordercrossings, No More Potlucks, Carleton University Art Gallery, and FUSE magazine where she was a contributing editor from 2008-2014. She has exhibited in Canada, the US, Norway and The Netherlands, and curated No Place: Queer Geographies on Screen and PLEASURE CRAFT. In 2012, she was the Viola Frey visiting scholar at California College of the Arts, where she is now an Assistant Professor in Printmedia and Graduate Fine Arts.

Nicole Burisch is a critic and curator based in Ottawa, Canada. Her writing has been published in Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, Cahiers métiers d’art-Craft Journal, No More Potlucks, and dpi: Feminist Journal of Art and Digital Culture. She has worked with organizations such as Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, Artexte, and Centre des arts actuels Skol and was a 2014-2016 Core Fellow Critic-in-Residence with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Writings by Black and Burisch are included in The Craft Reader (BERG) and Extra/ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art (Duke University Press), Making Otherwise (Carleton University Art Gallery) and together they have lectured on craft, curating, and politics in Canada, the USA, and the UK.

Acknowledgements:
Black and Burisch wish to acknowledge the support of Canada Council for the Arts, Grants to Independent Critics and Curators, Ontario Arts Council Craft Projects – Connections, and The Center for Craft Creativity and Design.

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All images courtesy of the artists.I am part of a group exhibition of Alberta College of Art + Design alumni along with Ward Bastian, Jolie Bird, Hyang Cho, Dean Drever, MacKenzie Kelly-Frère, Stephen Holman, Robin Lambert, Wednesday Lupypciw, Brendan McGillicuddy, Tyler Rock, Jenna Stanton, and Pavitra Wickramasinghe. The exhibition is called In the Making and it is up from January 16 to February 22, 2014 at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery in Calgary.

Curated by Diana Sherlock, the exhibition investigates conceptual intersections between contemporary craft and emerging digital media. The works span a diverse range of disciplines—photography, performance, video and sound installation, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry and glass—and reflect the ongoing influence of technology on ways of making and ways of thinking about the contemporary context.

My role in the exhibition is as that of animator or researcher: rather than reviewing it from a distance or writing an essay without seeing the work, I’m doing on-site research and get to be implicated in a more direct way with the exhibition, artists, curator, and community. I was in Calgary from January 18-25 to meet with the other exhibiting artists, conduct interviews, do visits, and present some of my recent research. I will share more information here as the project develops.

Image credits: L to R, T to B: Pavitra Wickramasinghe, Jenna Stanton, Hyang Cho, Wednesday Lupypciw, Jolie Bird, Brendan McGillicuddy, Ward Bastian, Dean Drever, MacKenzie Kelly-Frère, Stephen Holman, Robin Lambert, Tyler Rock.

 

Hay in a Haystack :: Du foin dans une meule de foin
crafty excerpts from Artexte’s collection :: extraits artisanaux de la collection d’Artexte
A limited-edition bookwork based on my 2012-2013 research residency at Artexte, available for consultation on-site at Artexte.
A small print-on-demand publication that includes a sampling of the excerpts in the bookwork is also available for purchase.

(La version française suit)

strata; transparencies; bonding; bound and buried cores; nervous energy, work energy, calm; body containing, body projecting; logical secrets; fragments meeting on a grid; progressive processes; repetition of gesture, of form, of line, of activity, of action; repetition in time and as time; serial rhythms flexed and measured; motion, muscle, touch; fetishes dissected and respected; abstract ritual; taut/loose, tension/freedom, part/whole, microcosm, macrocosm, distance/intimacy, interior/exterior; structure stretched, geometry thwarted into growth, memory compacted into layers, indoors outdoors, outdoors indoors; empty centers, open spaces; animal, vegetable, mineral, flesh.

Lucy Lippard, catalogue for Strata, Vancouver Art Gallery, 1977

Central to my research over the past few years has been the issue of how craft is perceived or represented. Rather than being a question of definition (what is craft?), this is a question about how craft or a crafted aesthetic is used to represent certain values or affiliations (more like why craft?). In particular, this line of inquiry has focused on the ways that craft, from its position on the margins of traditional art historical discourse, has often been used as a means to signal an affiliation with alternative lifestyles or politicized art practices.

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