The Social Life of Artistic Property (2014)

The Social Life of Artistic Property (2014)


What happens when twelve artists gather to discuss the relationship between art and property? In twenty meetings over two and a half years, the core group of Pablo Helguera, Michael Mandiberg, William Powhida, Amy Whitaker and Caroline Woolard birthed this provocative volume. The group produced three pieces of writing about experiments in group living and three proposals for the future of artistic property, including initiatives that reimagine studio space, living space, and artwork. The group is grateful for contributions to this conversation by many others, whose contributions are published elsewhere. Bound together, here is a record of the group's research and an invitation to consider the forgotten histories and plausible futures of the social life of artistic property.

Artists Report Back (2013)

Artists Report Back (2013)


As artists and art school graduates, we often find ourselves in conversations about the difficulties of continuing our practice as writers, authors, artists, actors, photographers, musicians, singers, producers, directors, performers, choreographers, dancers and entertainers. We struggle to support ourselves with jobs outside of the arts and we struggle to earn a living in the arts. Yet art school administrators and “creative class” reports assure us that arts graduates make a living in the arts. Loan officers insist that art students can afford art school tuition, repaying student loans over time by working in the arts. This is not our  experience. We decided that it was time make our own report.

Connecting our lived experiences to national trends, we wanted to know: What is the impact of rent, debt, and precarity on working artists and arts graduates nationally? How many of us are there? If we are not supporting ourselves as working artists, what jobs do we work?

We looked at artists’ demographics, occupations, educational attainment, field of degree, and earnings as recorded by the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is the largest survey that collects data about artists, surveying roughly 1 out of every 100 persons in the nation. With this data in hand, we made this report to reframe conversations about the current conditions and contradictions of arts graduates, and to make informed decisions about the ways we live and work. At the end of the report, please see our recommendations for organizational change and interpersonal action.

Download Artists Report Back

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Solidarity Art Worlds exist in places where people acknowledge each other with care and dignity, linking common struggles so that the next generations can work towards a world without structural violence, without worrying that solidarity, cooperation, redistribution, or guaranteed housing, universal health care, and education are alternative. I experience Solidarity Art Worlds when a wide range of struggles, desires, and needs are discussed. Without these spaces, I cannot dream of a better world. With two week timelines from invitation to publication,the Railwill seldom hear collective contributions. I cannot describe the future for you because I am writing this alone. One statement cannot communicate the lived experience of collective analysis, action, and collaboration. I cannot describe the future for you because I am writing this alone.