By Elektra KB - Feb. 25, 2020
I will no longer provide free labor for institutions.
Being a socially engaged artist, the lines between creation and political praxis, often get blurred.
As a disabled immigrant artist from Latin-America, I have found myself in exploitative or self-exploitative conditions.
My disability, doesn’t get better, to the contrary. It is more often than not, that us as disabled artists, just keep developing co-morbid conditions. As it is my case.
Being sick is expensive. We are capable, but the world is inaccessible.
My energy resources are extremely limited. If it is often difficult for me to shower, get dressed or cook a meal. Imagine how hard it is for me to provide you with free labor with limited energy resources.
I am grateful to have overcome many hardships and without the financial means. I made do, to get an arts education in New York. Something that seemed almost impossible for me, due to where I come from (class, country, immigration status) and being chronically ill.
This, off course took a toll on my health that will last forever.
My formal institutional education, lasted about 7 years. I am a professional at what I do, and will do a professional job. Being a researcher, art making, writing, performing, teaching. I am a cultural producer, and I deserve to always be paid. You want culture and the world to be an interesting place, pay us! Fund us! Include us!
I have often found myself without being able to afford my prescriptions copays, while some art dealer is luxuriating on my dime, somewhere. Or a curator decided to pay themselves, pay art handlers, pay installers, but not pay artists. It is a terrible trend. There are too many examples to name.
Fortunately, Institutions/Non-Profits such as: The Brooklyn Museum, The Gibney, Queer Arts, Visual Aids, New York University, School of Visual Arts, have all paid for my labor.
However, I keep getting offers for unpaid labor, and feel uncomfortable having to ask for my artist’s fee. Until there are artist’s unions in all art centers of the world, we have to keep fighting for fair artist wages. (I have joined U.S. based WAGE ) This should never be a question!
I will keep providing mutual aid, solidarity and free labor to causes that I see contribute for the betterment of humanity.
I will work with comrades for trade too and will support my community according to my means and capacity.
I won’t offer unpaid internships, only mentorships, work for trade or paid assistantships.
And will work for the destruction of: white supremacism, fascism, abuse of power, misoginy and ableism.
I don’t do charity, I do solidarity.
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