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2014-11-27
ART FIELD AS SOCIAL FACTORY
Conference of Free/Slow University of Warsaw (F/SUW)
ART FIELD AS SOCIAL FACTORY. DIVISION OF LABOUR, FORMS OF CAPITAL AND SYSTEMS OF EXPLOITATION IN THE CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL PRODUCTION
Time: 8th of November 2014, 11.00-18.30
Venue: Warszawa, Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej, pavilion EMILIA
Speakers: prof. Hans Abbing (University of Amsterdam), prof. Luc Boltanski (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris), Jean-Louis Fabiani (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) prof. Gregory Sholette (City University of New York), prof. Angela McRobbie (Goldsmiths, University of London), prof. Marek Krajewski (Uniwersytet w Poznaniu), dr Isabelle Bruno (Universite Lille), dr Pascal Gielen (University of Groningen)
Convenors of the conference and directors of the research project: Michał Kozłowski, Jan Sowa, Kuba Szreder
 
 
The conference seeks to explore the field of contemporary art as social factory, which determines division of labour, attribution of statuses, and distribution of the various forms of capital. When we discuss artistic labour, we analyse the entire process of art production, in which artists are involved among other groups of producers, such as assistants, curators, technicians, administrators. We seek to expose competitive pressures both within and between those categories, mechanisms converting various types of capital (i.e. social, symbolic, and economic), systems of justification and moral economies characteristic for this mode of production. 
 
The conference accompanies research programme 'Division of labour and distribution of social and economic capitals in the Polish contemporary art field' conducted by the team of Free/Slow University of Warsaw in 2013 and 2014. This comprehensive survey will be summarised by the report, published by the end of 2014 on the web pages of F/SUW and Bęc Zmiana Foundation. 
 
 

We start from a basic assumption that the art field unequally distributes social, economic and symbolic capitals between different groups of cultural producers involved in the artistic production. It is a common knowledge that the art field is characterised by enormous inequalities, dooming majority of cultural producers to poverty and anonymity, while monopolising capitals in the hands of the few. We are not interested in the diagnosis of this situation. Instead, we would like to inquire into the veiled, structural causes of the situation and mechanisms of its reproduction, asking whether and how privileges of some come from the misery of others. In other words, we would like to talk about exploitation in the contemporary art. We intend to dissect exploitative systems, by inquiring who exploits whom, in which way does this process unfold and why do involved agents agree to partake in the exploitative situation. We propose to question casual systems of justification perpetuating cultural production, which individualise responsibility for both success and failure of competitive struggles. We would like to reflect upon the moral economy of cultural production, posing the problems of collective sustenance and potential reforms. 

 
During our conference we will focus on the specific case of the contemporary art field, however our ambitions do not stop at its boundaries. We consider some of the characteristic traits of artistic mode of production as symptomatic for the general 'relations of production of our period'. We hypothesise that exploitation in the contemporary art is consequential, and sometimes even pioneering exploitative systems put in motion by neoliberal capitalism. Just with such wider picture in mind, we focus on the specific situation of contemporary cultural producers. 
 

 

 
Administrative directors of the project: Szymon Żydek i Bogna Świątkowska
 
Research team of the project: Krzysztof Bielecki (visual identification), Joanna Figiel, Mirosław Filiciak, Dorota Grobelna, Mikołaj Iwański, Anna Zawadzka
 
Initiators of the project and conference organisers: Free/Slow University of Warsaw / Bęc Zmiana Foundation
 
Partners: Fundacja Projekt: Polska, Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie, British Council, Ambasada Królestwa Niderlandów w Polsce, Ośrodek Kultury Francuskiej i Studiów Frankofońskich Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Pracowania Badań nad Filozofią Francuską Instytutu Filozofii Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
 
The research is realised in the cooperation with Polish Ministry if Culture and National Heritage in the framework of the programme Observatory of Culture.