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31 Aug 2015

Art Production in Restriction. Possibilities of Transformative Art Production and Coalition-Building

A Real Work of Art - art, work, and solidarity structures


Exhibition, 2-20 September 2015, RAM Galleri, Oslo
Seminar, 4-7 September 2015, Nova Kino, Trondheim
Mini Book Fair, 5-6 September 2015, Nova Kino, Trondheim

Anne-Gro Erikstad
+47 45636287

Håkon den Godes gate 30
7601 Levanger

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Since the neoliberal attack on public institutions of art and art education, artistic work has become an entrepreneurial activity within a restrictive framework conditioned by the expanding art market and hegemonic political agendas prescribing the usefulness of art. The division of labor in the creative and knowledge industries has formed huge masses of artists that serve as a 'reserve army' for cheap creative labor.

In recent years artists have organized themselves in new ways, developing strategies to agitate for better labor conditions and certain standards of payment for artistic work.
Major discussions dealing with the conditions of artistic production address the precarity that artistic labor has in common with other branches of 'immaterial' and reproductive, or 'invisible', labor. In this context, artistic work is seen as a model for highly-exploitative working relations in late capitalism. To understand what kind of precarity is at stake one needs to take into account the whole process of production and the position of the artist within it.

Obviously, we should distinguish between the precarity of Thai berry pickers working in the forests of Finland and Norway and the position of artists that, believing in the idea of liberated work, have to labor under precarious conditions. Less obvious, but no less real, are the different levels of precarity due to the social stratifcation of the art world. This encompasses artists producing pieces for the art market, artists working in art management and administration, and community and non-proft-oriented art practices.

In examining these differences and contradictions, with conditions varying considerably between the peripheries and centers of capital, between the global South and North, can the general precarity of art production be seen to function as a common denominator in artists' struggles for better working conditions? Or, do we need a different political basis for coalition-building that would be realized in a different model of production? How can this different production model support coalition-building? In such a setting, can the autonomy of artistic production become an emancipatory force, or should artists join social movements and political parties of the new left that aim for non-capitalist transformation?


This seminar brings together artists, writers, critics, and curators who are active in groups that are struggling for better working conditions in the arts and society at large. Throughout the course of two days participants will discuss theoretical conceptions of artistic labor and precarity, exchange local and transnational experiences in confronting the neoliberal entrepreneurial mode of art production, and strategize models of transformative and emancipatory art production and organizing.


Airi Triisberg
(Tallinn), Corina L Apostol (ArtLeaks, Bucharest), Danilo Prnjat (DeMaterijalizacija umetnosti, Belgrade), Gregory Sholette (New York), Ivor Stodolsky (Perpetuum Mobile, Berlin), Jean-Baptiste Naudy (Ateliers Populaires de Paris), Jelena Vesić (Belgrade), Jesper Alvær (Oslo), Jochen Becker (metroZones, Berlin), Kuba Szreder (Warsaw), Lise Skou (Aarhus), Lise Soskolne (W.A.G.E., New York), Marina Vishmidt (London), Marita Muukkonen (Perpetuum Mobile, Helsinki), Marius Lervåg Aasprong (Trondheim), Minna Henriksson (Helsinki), Mourad El Garouge (Ateliers Populaires de Paris), Noah Fischer (Occupy Museums, New York), Raluca Voinea (ArtLeaks, Bucharest), Sissel M Bergh (Trøndelag Bildende Kunstnere, Trondheim)

Curated by Rena Raedle and Vladan Jeremic

The online compendium is accessible on the seminar webpage at:


A Real Work of Art - art, work, and solidarity structures
Corina L. Apostol (ArtLeaks), Federico Geller, Fokus Grupa, Nikolay Oleynikov (Chto Delat?) and Iulia Toma
September 2, 6pm
Opening of the exhibition with a promotion of the ArtLeaks Gazette #3, It will be accompanied by the lecture 'Art Workers Between Precarity and Resistance: A Genealogy' by Corina L. Apostol.

Financial support for this project/seminar was provided by Arts Council Norway and Nordic Culture Point. Preliminary research for this project was done during a residency of the artists at The Nordic Artists' Centre Dale.