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Danilo Correale, "Reverie, On the liberation from work – Part 2 (still), 2017". Courtesy of the artist.
Is this Love?
Labor / Art /
Friday May 8,
Sync Curatorial Fellowship and 3 137 present a project in two parts on labor in contemporary art.
During her spring 2020 residency, sync Curatorial Fellow Ilaria Conti conducted site and studio visits across Athens, while developing collaborative research on issues of labor within contemporary art with 3 137, an artist-run space founded in 2012 by Chrysanthi Koumianaki, Kosmas Nikolaou, and Paky Vlassopoulou. Part of the project involved Ilaria serving as Director of GABRIELA, an immaterial institution established by 3 137 and centered on issues of sustainability and institutional critique.
The collaborative research focused on two complementary aspects: materiality and discourse. The material conditions of labor in contemporary art were investigated through meetings with practitioners across Athens—taking into consideration the city’s proliferation of artistic initiatives in recent years—and through research on relevant international initiatives. Concurrently, the project delved into how the discourse on labor is constructed by way of language, perception, and reputation, and how these elements shape and reinforce hierarchical mechanisms of class and exploitation that expand beyond national and socio-economical specificities. In an attempt to deconstruct the myths and preconceptions on artistic labor, the project explored the idea of aura, intended as the “halo of power” seemingly quintessential to the discourse of contemporary art, and its invisible but tangible presence. Through this auratic lens, the project questioned how labor is defined, value is constructed, and work is carried out.
The project’s closing event, originally scheduled for March 20 at 3 137 and postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, has been redesigned in a digital format to expand beyond the research conducted during the fellowship, and address some of the significant developments in art workers’ collective action taking place in Southern Europe during the pandemic.
Is This Love? Labor / Art / Auratic Conditions
The program, which will be conducted in English, will feature a conversation with Cultural Workers Alliance Greece and Art Workers Italia, two independent and participative groups of workers that spontaneously formed during the Covid-19 crisis in Greece and Italy, respectively. The event will conclude with a collective exercise of physical and speculative emancipation through artist Danilo Correale’s Reverie On the liberation from work – Part 2 (2017).
Through this collective process, we aim to foster generative and growing exchanges among grassroots initiatives on workers’ rights, reconsider our collective understanding of labor in contemporary art and beyond, and undermine the validity of the rhetoric of cultural work as a “labor of love”.
Around Labor, Art, and the Auratic Condition (This is Not a Love Song)
In order to document the process of the project, a publication was developed, mapping the research and conversations generated from the project’s collaborative processes.
The publication’s title Around Labor, Art, and the Auratic Condition (This is Not a Love Song), provides the authors’ answer to the question: Is This Love?, thus directly addressing whether love should be part of the equation that connects art, labor, class, and exploitation.
This non-linear and non-discursive publication designed by Yannikos Vasiloulis will feature statements by curators and scholars that have been active in Athens on issues of labor in art, including iLiana Fokianaki, Elpida Karaba, Evita Tsokanta, and Despina Zefkili, and a newly commissioned image by Erica Scourti; the Greek translation of key language tools developed by the U.S.-based organization Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.); and a collection of practical and playful exercises to rethink and reorganize one’s immaterial labor.
The publication will be presented during the project’s final event Is This Love? Labor / Art / Auratic Conditions.
A special thanks to Marina Papadaki, Pennie Key, and Fleur Melbourn for their work towards the March event.
For contributors’ biographies, click here.
More info can be found on www.syncresidency.org