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(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Article 23. of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as adopted in 1948.
Art Fun Club (Serbia), Nemanja Cvijanović (Croatia), Luchezar Boyadjiev (Bulgaria), Tanja Dabo & Igor Grubić (Croatia), Petra Feriancova (Slovakia), Janez Janša (Slovenia), Şener Özmen & Erkan Özgen (Turkey), Irena Pivka & Brane Zorman (Slovenia), Susan Schmidt (Germany), Tina Smrekar (Slovenia), Mladen Stilinović (Croatia), son:DA (Slovenia), Goran Trbuljak (Croatia)
April 4th – May 2nd 2008
You are kindly invited to attend the opening of the exhibition on Friday, April 4th at 20.00 at Galerija Škuc.
Article 23 served as a starting point for examining the conditions of work and existence of artists, both nationally and internationally. Contemporary artists are generally underpaid, their work is assessed poorly or not at all, and they have low social security, so to survive they must often do work which is not related to their occupation. The issue of artists' survival strategies has recently featured more prominently in the local contemporary art context as well, but without much affinity for the artists' opinions. The artists are most often referred to as examples of artistic practice and not as living beings who usually can hardly make ends meet from their work.
Tina Smrekar's project Surviver, which was presented last year at the galerija miroslav kraljević in Zagreb served as the key ground for the concept of the exhibition in Škuc Gallery, as the artist comes from a stratum of society whose work is most often rewarded with charity. The artist has transformed her personal experience into a research project, which included interviews with over fifty artists from different parts of the world, and for the Zagreb exhibition she complemented this with works by artists who respond to the issues of survival in various ways.
The second part of the exhibition in Škuc Gallery presents the view of the curator, who responded to the same questions from the position of a cultural worker, an advocate for better working conditions, and a representative of those who are on the payroll (mostly without questioning their position) of different institutions. The artist and the curator worked for several months on the project and developed the exhibition in a dialogue with the invited artists. Some of the works respond to the issue very indirectly and some build upon it, while interpreting the theme with humour and, above all, cynically.
On 7 April at 19.00, within the framework of the exhibition, there will be a presentation of the Danish association for young workers in art, UKK, founded in 2002 as the result of protests against the new ultra-right government and its policies, and the Austrian association for fine arts, IG Bildende Kunst, which represents the interests of visual artists. Both will present their work and ways to improve the working conditions of creators of contemporary art.
The next day, 8 April, at 19.00, there will be a panel discussing ‘How to fill the pockets of the contemporary artist?!’. The discussion will involve the BridA collective, Alenka Gregorič, Dunja Kukovec, Jadranka Ljubičič, Aldo Milohnič, Bojana Piškur, Irena Pivka, Tadej Pogačar, Marija Mojca Pungerčar, Borut Savski and Tina Smrekar. Together we will seek potential solutions that could result in better working conditions and ensure better understanding of the living, production and creative conditions of contemporary artists on the part of state institutions.
The Article 23 exhibition is part of the project Land of Human Rights, which involves six institutions: the <> association for contemporary art, Graz, the University of J.E. Purkyně, Ústí nad Labem, riesa efau | Motorenhalle, Dresden, Trafó Gallery, Budapest, Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana, g - mk | galerija miroslav kraljević, Zagreb. These six art institutions have jointly developed the Land of Human Rights. The different parts of the program – exhibitions inside and outside the gallery space, poster campaigns, media projects, film programmes, residency programmes, theoretical discourse etc – are conceived and carried out on the institutions’ own authority. The project deals with the status quo of human rights in Europe seen from the perspective of visual art. Starting at the end of 2007, analyses and visions of human rights issues in Europe will be developed and disseminated through art to the general public over a period of three years.
The rumbling stomach art
Valuation, as one of the basic occupations of the society, encompassing a range from personal to broader societal criteria, determines and enables the positioning of an individual in a social environment in which he lives and works or, as the case may be, creates. The very perception of the words work and create presents the first obstacle we run into when we label diverse vocations or types of creativity according to societal norms. Assembly line, factory, office, trade etc. are spaces where, by general standards, one does not create but rather work. Work as such demands its pay, since it is socially valuable and has to be rewarded with an earned payment without question.
A creator, whom we most often equate with the artist, faces, however, a minor difficulty. The society more often than not puts creating into the frame of (useless) social activities, which does not bring any surplus and which belongs to the realm of private relaxation and satisfaction. Its usefulness has objectionable parameters - most often it serves as entertainment, tension release, relaxation, diversion from everyday work. So why would the kind of work which is not connected to a tangible saleable product and is therefore flirting with useless creating, be paid. The artist should take up useful work, valued by society as worthy of payment.
In the case of a Slovenian artist, his survival is most often bound to the support from public institutions, which value his work and set the amount of payment accordingly. In most cases, the sum of money is bizarre to such extent, that it does not even cover the basic production costs, let alone the costs of survival. There remains the possibility of trading their "products", the ones that the broader society most often doesn’t recognise as satisfactory for monetary purchase. Yet, in the time when the international contemporary art market is blooming on all levels, in Slovenia it is completely underfed. The blame is to be looked for both on the level of the cultural policy climate as well as in the reception of such novelty (for the Slovenian space) from the side of the professional public.
Welcome to the real world of the artists, whose mailboxes are just as well filled with numbered leaflets the amounts on which are, just as with people who do get paid for their work, draining the already half-empty wallets. Yet it is worth to suffer for art, isn't it? How else would one satisfy the empty consumerist souls who have more than enough of their own problems. Art should entertain and amuse, since that is its mission, even though with a rumbling stomach.
Discussion "How to fill the pockets of the contemporary artist!?" will be recorded for radioCona programme and performed on Radio Študent on Thursday, April 17th at 9.30 p.m.
The programme of Škuc Gallery is supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and City of Ljubljana – Department of Culture.
Project is co-produced with Zavod No History.
Sponsor is Signum d.o.o.
For further information contact Alenka Gregorič, artistic director of the Škuc Gallery on +386 1 251 65 40, firstname.lastname@example.org
With the support of the Culture programme of European Union.
Land of Human Rights is a project by <> association for contemporary art/ Graz,
University of J.E. Purkyně/ Ústí nad Labem, riesa efau | Motorenhalle/ Dresden, Trafó Gallery/ Budapest, Galerija Škuc/ Ljubljana, g - mk | galerija miroslav kraljević/ Zagreb