Performance / Lecture
Of course, labour in the art field has always been different from labour in other areas.
One of the current reasons, however, might be that the contemporary economy of art relies more on presence than on traditional ideas of labour power tied to the production of objects. Presence as in physical presence, as in attendance or being-there in person. Why would presence be so desirable? The idea of presence invokes the promise of unmediated communication, the glow of uninhibited existence, a seemingly unalienated experience and authentic encounter between humans. It implies that not only the artist but everyone else is present too, whatever that means and whatever it is good for. Presence stands for allegedly real discussion, exchange, communication: the happening, the event, liveness, the real thing––you get the idea.
In addition to delivering works artists, or more generally content providers, have to perform countless additional services nowadays, which slowly seem to have become more important than any other form of work. The Q&A is more important than the screening, the live lecture more than the text, the encounter with the artist more important than the one with the work. Not to mention the jumble of quasi-academic and social media PR formats that multiply the templates in which unalienated presence is supposed to be delivered. The artist has to be present, as in Marina Abramovic’s eponymous performance. And not only present, but exclusively present, present for the first time, or in some other hyperventilating capacity of newness. Artistic occupation is being redefined as permanent presence . But in the endless production of seemingly singular events, the serial churning out of novelty and immediacy, the happening of the event is also a general performance, as Sven Lütticken called it, a quantifiable measure of efficiency and total social labour.
After six months in an art residency where the economic conditions weren't the bests, I decided to read the complete text 'The Terror of Total Dasein: Economies of Presence in the Art Field' by Hito Steyerl as a final presentation of my work.
Through appropiation, I read it as if I've written it, printed and edited a book with my face on it and the title 'Gracias, precariedad' (Thanks precarity for this). The lecture is recorded by the video-surveillance system of the residency, the same cameras that were the proof of my presence there for the six months.
'Manager of myself' (Inditex t-shirt)
Gracias, Precariedad Book