FROM LONGING TO BELONGING
How we can start together.
If you feel uncomfortable when asked And you, what do you do?, don’t worry - we feel your struggle, it is real, and we want to guide you from a landscape of longing to that of belonging.
We are aware that the well of the “art field” functions as a shelter for those among knowledge production who are troubled by identifying themselves within rigid categorization. Nonetheless, this broad definition that indexes the need for belonging to a scene is still based on an assumption of neo-feudal elitism, and reflexively states the exclusiveness of its foundation.
Sometimes, we have failed at being honest with ourselves and have avoided asking each other the harsh question: In which condition do we have access to this field? What is it that we are forced to leave behind in order to grapple with the status of art workers?
The result of our avoidance is the flattering of a layered scenario, which is regulated by its own rules and yet very much pressured by economic scarcity, which of course is also always kept unspoken. This paradox became evident in how the art practitioner is perceived socially: elevated in the social status, but confined to a state of underrepresentation in the labour system, extraniated from the sphere of necessity and rights. Fancy, but underpaid; interesting, but depressed; invited, but not heard. Those are the conditions to which we are accustomed.
With L’Union des Refusés, the non-bureaucratic union initiated by Arts of the Working Class, we try to inhabit this terrain of polarity, bringing together various, fragmented labour profiles of the so-called “art world”, as well as individuals, initiatives and institutions. In doing so, L’UDR tries to tackle the principles of opacity that foster the inequalities within the art system, and aims to translate them into more transparent ones: those of belonging to a community.
Among the many formulations of what makes a community, we find the underlying principle of care and accountability among its members, a principle which enhances collective wellbeing upon individual success and which shall be experimented and negotiated with in its process of becoming. In order to initiate this expansive process of analysis, L’UDR have formulated a simple poll in order to define the profiles which inhabit and constitute the art field(s); to reveal the inequalities hidden behind the glossiness of the category. We hope that starting from numbers and statistics will enable us to respond to the individual and situated needs that arise from the same terrain of exploitation and dissatisfaction, and help us to offer assistance with establishing better working conditions worldwide.
Help us by sharing our poll and by admitting to yourself the conditions in which you survive in the art field (and beyond).