Talking about it

Yesterday evening – after performances by Hungarian duo bodylotion co-dance and German duo Quast & Knoblich – there was a talk in the foyer about duo work moderated by Danish/Swiss duo Chuck Morris (in which one of the two artistic directors at the festival Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt is part).

The talk intended to address questions concerning production conditions when working in two.

Questions regarding equality/equity were brought up and the moderators sought several times to kick-start a debate by giving examples of how they themselves as a duo reflect upon production conditions and what these mean for their practice and the works they create together. Unfortunately – and this was more or less same scenario at the warm-up talk in Malmø last week – it didn’t create much resonance in the interlocutors. It seemed as if these questions were more or less new to them – or as if they just weren’t given too much attention prior to the conversation. And this is in itself interesting. Because how come these seemingly absurd questions (about economy, how to collaborate when in distance, how to share work load when one has a child etc.) do not get their rightful attention? I mean, production conditions is an essential factor in every single work of art.

It was as if the conversation never really grew because the foundation of it wasn’t in place. Perhaps there’s some kind of resistance towards talking about these matters – money matters – an insistence on separating business and privacy.

The moderators ended the conversation suggesting to dare talking about economy in relation to artistic production; “We highly recommend it,” Cecilie said.

And so do I.  Questioning money-matter and production circumstances within the arts is far from anything new – but with the advent of neoliberalism, artists all the more should be doing so. Artistic production and artistic life is more integrated into the economy than previously and the precarious work – that working with art mostly is – becomes a model for labour in a wider perspective. Collective affairs are masked as individual problems – by extension, we talk about self-precarity versus structural precarity without really understanding how these concepts are intertwined.
One can start by reflecting upon the means of the conditions regarding one’s own artistic practice and understand the impact they have – also in a more general perspective concerning working conditions within the wider cultural field.

Yes, let’s start talking about it.

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