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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. There are lots of groups out there working on these issues already, so please check out the links below to see some of the sources. Merci aussi à Simon Brown pour la traduction!**

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,

__________________

///

Chère ________, Cher ________,
Merci de m’avoir invité·e à participer à votre projet.

Il se peut que vous soyez déjà au courant des réflexions et discussions actuelles autour de la question du travail précaire dans les domaines artistiques et universitaires. C’est un sujet qui me tient à cœur, et, par conséquent, j’ai pris la décision il y a quelque temps de ne plus travailler sans rémunération. Je dois avouer être un peu surpris·e d’apprendre qu’un organisme comme le vôtre, qui prétend porter les valeurs de ____________ et de ____________, entretienne l’idée que la « visibilité » ou ____________ constitue une rémunération équitable pour quelque travail que ce soit.

Qu’il s’agisse de la rédaction, de la recherche, de l’administration ou de _____________ — toutes ces activités constituent du travail, et non pas du bénévolat. Au Quebec et au Canada, des organismes comme le RAAV et le CARFAC établissent des barèmes de rémunération minimale pour le travail artistique et culturel. Dans d’autres pays, ce sont des organismes comme WAGE ou la SAIF qui militent pour la rémunération équitable des travailleurs culturels et artistes.

Ceux d’entre nous qui travaillent dans le domaine de _________________ ressentent sur une base quotidienne les effets de la précarité et de la sous-évaluation de notre travail, que ce soit au sein des organismes culturels, des universités, ou à titre de travailleurs autonomes. Le fait de travailler gratuitement entretient à la fois l’idée que ce que nous faisons ne constitue pas du « vrai travail », et une situation où seuls ceux et celles ayant les moyens de travailler sans rémunération sont en mesure de travailler tout court. Il va sans dire que de telles conditions de travail défavorisent démesurément les femmes, les personnes racisées, les autochtones et les membres des communautés LGBTQ+.

Ce sont des questions auxquelles votre organisme est peut-être déjà en train de réfléchir.
Je vous souhaite la meilleure des chances avec votre projet.
Cordialement,
___________


See also:

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

 

desire_change
Since 2013, I have been working as Managing Editor on a new publication on contemporary feminist art in Canada, commissioned by Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA), and edited by Heather Davis.

In the resistance to the violence of gender-based oppression, vibrant – but often ignored – worlds have emerged, full of nuance, humour, and beauty. Correcting an absence of writing about contemporary feminist work by Canadian artists, Desire Change considers the resurgence of feminist art, thought, and practice in the past decade by examining artworks that respond to themes of diversity and desire.

Essays by historians, artists, and curators present an overview of a range of artistic practices including performance, installation, video, textiles, and photography. Contributors address the desire for change through three central frames: how feminist art has significantly contributed to the complex understanding of gender as it intersects with sexuality and race; the necessary critique of patriarchy and institutions as they relate to colonization within the Canadian national-state; and the ways in which contemporary critiques are formed and expressed. The resulting collection addresses art through an activist lens to examine intersectional feminism, decolonization, and feminist institution building in a Canadian context.

Heavily illustrated with representative works, Desire Change raises both the stakes and the concerns of contemporary feminist art, with an understanding that feminism is always and necessarily plural.

Contributors include Janice Anderson (Concordia University), Gina Badger (artist, writer, editor, Toronto), Amber Christensen (curator and writer, Toronto), Karin Cope (NSCAD), Lauren Fournier (artist, writer, and curator, York University), Amy Fung (curator and writer, Toronto), Kristina Huneault (Concordia University), Alice Ming Wai Jim (Concordia University), Tanya Lukin Linklater (artist, North Bay), Sheila Petty (University of Regina), Kathleen Ritter (curator and writer, Vancouver), Daniella Sanader (curator and writer, Toronto), Thérèse St. Gelais (UQAM), cheyanne turions (curator and writer, Toronto), Ellyn Walker (Queen’s University), Jayne Wark (NSCAD) and Jenny Western (curator and writer, Winnipeg).

Copublished by Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art and McGill Queen’s University Press.

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.

01_ct_instant_coffee

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.

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.

 

The Tory Burch FEED bag, one of the examples we address in our text.

Anthea and I have been busy working on a new body of research into the use of craft and crafted aesthetics as a form of political expression and identity construction. We recently presented a paper entitled, “Performing Austerity: Political Identities and the Co-option of the Crafted Aesthetic” at the Textile Society of America Symposium in Washington, DC. The theme of the Symposium was “Textiles and Politics” and we got to present as part of the fantastic Material Matters panel organized by Lisa Vinebaum, Ruth Scheuing, and Ingrid Bachmann.

The abstract of the paper is posted below, and there are more links, examples, and excerpts on the Performed Austerity website.

Craft has been positioned as both a fix and foil for the ills of capitalism and alienating conditions of industrialization, and the current moment, dubbed by some as a “craft revolution,” often romanticizes craft as simple, fulfilling, authentic, and politically significant work. This paper explores the use of crafted aesthetics in both consumption and anti-consumption models of social/political engagement to conspicuously perform values of personal agency, and social responsibility, as expressions of (life)style in an economic climate obsessed with austerity. We introduce the term “craftwashing” to refer to instances where craft is used to market fashionable goods whose desirability often obscures the sticky ethical, environmental, and economic questions around their production.

extra_cover“In Craft Hard Die Free: Radical Curatorial Strategies for Craftivism, Anthea Black and Nicole Burisch provide a brief international survey of activities which seek to deploy craft for the purposes of protest. Knitting, and other textile arts traditionally associated with communal crafting, plays the leading role. The concept of the ‘revolutionary knitting circle’ recalls the 1970s feminist use of a similar group exchange as a form of consciousness raising. Black and Burisch also cite the AIDS Quilt project of the 1980s as an important precursor for the present moment. So much for precedents, what about the future? Clearly, efficacy and identity are interwoven in this essay, which takes for granted another 70s concept–that the personal is political–and offers real-world strategies for [maintaining] the efficacy of symbolic craft. It is too early to say whether craftivism will have staying power in the cultural imagination, like the Arts and Crafts, studio and countercultural craft movements before it. But there is little doubt that Black, Burisch and their peers have breathed new life into this old set of ideas.”
-Glenn Adamson, The Craft Reader

Extra/ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art has been reviewed in BUST Magazine, Bad at SportsAmerican Craft, Liminalities and will go to its second printing at Duke soon.

For a copy: https://www.dukeupress.edu/Extra-Ordinary/