Art and Labor 11.22.2011Ma taking notes
– discussion of camera and film (woman making film on aesthetics and
– negative. Camera off
Stack for agenda items:
Cy – offer for meetings to take place at Occupied New School;
situation getting more precarious; set of power struggles;
negotiations include (with president) opening up new spaces; strategy:
accommodation of students; students need support; doing a great job;
we could lend support by being in proximity for meetings; yes
Rl – meeting back after breakaway groups; yes
Be – consensus on 12/4 with Greg Sholette; yes
Stack for announcements (should be informational):
Be – just came from 60 Wall; functional; we’re back in there; A&C only
going to meet on Mondays and Thursdays; Saturdays a reunion day where
different groups show up; maybe we should show up.
Debrief on Occupy Lunch
Nn – explaining action: to announce ourselves, bring people together,
discuss labor in the arts; explaining location, GA process;
Rl – announcement: one of freelance bosses came and was so impressed
he offered her health insurance
Ma – mentioned Art in America article online
Pk – Chai people organizing an event to commemorate Tunisian street
Ly – was there a recording of the GA?
Ys – POI – pictures, filming; how to correlate the material later?
Za – I documented the whole thing
Ne – any further thoughts, ideas?
Be – felt really excited; really psyched; glad it happened on Thurs.
(11/17); frustration: leading up to the event, particularly on Google
Group process; largely around consensus on GG; but after event, felt
Cs – great, for the most part; works in Crozier bldg.; one of
coworkers showed up, but she had to leave around the time we were
starting; noticed there weren’t many art handlers; would like to be
more succinct with the timing and outreach
Cy – re: Google Group: in general; what it’s becoming; warrants a
conversation in person rather than GG discussion
Pl – excited about event, would like to see continued; and with pre-
existing OWS structure; protest in a.m., etc. [twinkle]
Ta – how can it progress as an action and become a productive action?
It was a good intro, but it could do something else, too. If we talk
about doing it more, how to
INTERUPTION: we need to move or something … due to security … [En &
Discussion about moving … stairs, benches, etc. Moving to stairs
Be – Proposal: yes or no and then move on
Nn – is it just us?
Be – yes, they just want us to generate the content
Sm – is it affiliated with any particular dept?
Be – Art History & Criticism
Cy – Where is it?
Be – Manhattan
TEMP CHECK: should we just decide yes or no or discuss? Discussion
around that – break out or not?
PROPOSAL: Say yes for now and then figure out specifics later; make it
an agenda item for future meetings
Jn – thinks it’s premature to make a decision on this …
December 4: Teach in with Gregory Sholette
Be – explaining idea: history of artists organizing, to give us common
context, conversation; Greg’s slide show, getting more people
involved: Lippard on Skype; another art historian re: 30s and artists’
unions; space an issue, loaded; can we get a consensus on space.
Options: Cabinet, Abrons (underground theater, seats 100 people; have
to pay AV guy: $20 per hr.)
Ce – POI Cabinet: wouldn’t be sent out via Cabinet’s lists; under
auspices of Ce; she would be AV person, free space to use; 75 chairs,
110 with standing room; projector, screen, audio/video record set up.
Free beer! 5-6 cases of free beer.
Cs – Henry St./Abrons?
Be – explanation
En – time: El Barrio conflict (3 pm – 10 pm); earlier or later?
Dy – can we get Arts & Culture money to pay the projectionist? Is
Cabinet a co-optation?
Nn – Why one day? Lots to cover? One day? Etc.
Be – Long process … because it’s something someone offered … doesn’t
have to be the only event. Hopefully we’ll do lots of things
Ma – December 11?
Bn – Is this for us, or others as well? Is it a presentation of Arts &
Labor to a broader public? Both seem like reasonable spaces
Je – concern with aligning with particular spaces, but okay with
Cabinet because it’s someone inside the group; how will we determine
who will be invited?
Pk – wheelchair access? [they’ll find out]
Cy – can we take consensus? With contingencies …
Ne – go to break outs?
Nn – what is the nature of the event? [some discussion; discussion of
Va – in the weekend: problem with trains (Brooklyn, Cabinet)
En – is it a meeting for us? Then, Cabinet. But if it’s public,
Abrons, theater. So it matters
Le – Closed versus open: the group is open. Theater is hierarchical;
Cy – advocating for city; access and fluidity
PROPOSAL: Cabinet: lukewarm; Abrons: lukewarm – explanation of stand
asides – finally: ABRONS!
Proposals for working groups
Ma: Action, Information, Outreach
Za – wants to be in diversity outreach
Jf – Doing a lot of outreach; inspiring, but always interested in
starting a dialogue re: alternative economies so we’re providing
alternatives, so that people have an option to choose; sustainability
and the art market – that would be a great way to bring people
En – so many things thrown out, we don’t have time to process; let’s
break into four groups and have a “brain dump” [TWINKLE]
Dy – different times for each group? Could you be in more than one
Cy – break out under different groups – rather than En’s idea
Ne – synthesize: some general and some specific groups
Me – Supporting En’s proposal; wants general
Bn – also first time at meeting; went to New School: they broke into
smaller groups and it gave everyone a chance to speak and have a
proposal; wants to spend time to get group consensus on 4-5 groups
Nn – En’s model; say, media savvy crowd could
Ys – synthetic model: focus groups and broader groups
Ne – competing proposals … explanation of … “hybrid”
Proposed Groups: Diversity Outreach (Za); Alternative Economies (Jf);
Information (Ma); Media (Ys); General Discussion
Ma: there’s a need for generating a knowledge base about what we’re
organizing about. Learning from the past (AWC, Guerilla Girls, etc.)
Also, it’s important to have text describing what we’re about, for
when people/media inquire. It’s an ideological question.
Le: information is related to all the other subcommittees and other
conversations we’re a part of. Where do we start? What are we
digesting/creating material around so we can be productive/directed?
Cs: it was nice to have a small library at Occupy Lunch. Continue
that. Keep channels open. Advocate keeping up what we have and
generating new content.
Sm: it’s hard to come up with an adequate description of OWS, and
that’s part of the point. There’s a delicate balance b/w consolidating
representation and dispersing identity. Those are the dialectical
pulls producing the tension motivating the movement. Trying to frame
the dispersal of identity on the level of questions of necessity—we
are impelled to explode the forms of representation/identities that
seem to want to frame us.
In : This is connected with outreach. We need more people to get
involved. He doesn’t feel aligned with anyone because he doesn’t know
what our concerns are. We need an avenue for people to present where
they’re coming from. This could snowball.
Ma: Almost all she’s done in this movement is spending a lot of time
writing a few sentences. What if you had stories/testimonials from
every perspective of Art & Labour.
In: People having a place to put some kind of place to put the reasons
for their position. Makes them identify and want to join the group.
Ma: not just producing information, but collecting information. Sales
tax/all galleries are not the same. There’s a map with text on it.
Le: Zh is her boss. He has not been to any meetings but he tracks the
google group. Those conversations are what has inspired him to
participate. That’s a real shift. That’s information that has
proliferated to make actual change. How can we create a format that
limits the group? Making cohesive statements and compiling them.
Ce : There are three main strands: self-presentation, providing
information that we collect/research, and the speculative strand.
Putting facts in front of people is powerful. Making the unspoken
spoken is powerful. C
Lh: Archiving concerns. Collecting, preserving and sharing stories/
Ma: La is also interested in the “affective chord”—testimonials
function like that.
Nn : Scaleable idea-mapping program could be useful for organizing our
Ma: are the smaller groups useful?
In: they’re all connected. It’s useful to see work individually.
Sm: the division of labour is the only way to get things done.
Ce: it’s horizontal and porous.
Le: Outreach is a portion of the information that we want to include
in this conversation. It’s interesting to bridge that space—have a
conversation about integrating their logic into ours and vice versa.
Ma: there’s a difference between division of labour and skill set.
Sm: but skill set arises out of division of labour. It’s not bad to
have agonism emerge between the groups. Identification is a great
outreach principle, but what about disidentification? That’s an
important task…At the occupy lunch, having people coming together over
their frustration with the system. It’s about mobilizing that kind of
Ma: The GA model comes out of Quaker/Native American/12-step
consensus. 12-step groups are based on the idea that if you have a
problem that is shameful, secretive, embarrassing, that you reveal,
then you break the silence around it. Post-Apartheid Truth and
Reconciliation sessions. Productive. She is curious that it was “Art
Workers” in the 60s and now it’s “Art & Labour”—we’re talking about
different forms of labour in this moment that we’re working on. It is
satisfying to work outside of your area of specialization.
Cs: Do we already have an online archive?
Ma: Anna put together a prelimary thing
Le: A cloud sort of website could be better. A way for that to be
physical. How can the information be more usable?
Cs: we have a facebook page intact. Maybe for the time being we can
make a link to downloads of the texts so that it’s all in a central
In: there’s a good resource called Box.net. allows collaborators of
files. Manages new versions of that file.
Lh: important to make information available more broadly, for other
art workers, as well as internal archiving/organizing.
In: he does design, and so does woody. Box.net is free up to 2GB.
Google groups might be good enough now.
Cs: should we propose an online resource/database? Also printable?
Le: Jstor access—in terms of text and image, we could upload. Sharing
content and making it public.
Ma: the map was a pamphlet. Could make a collection of narratives/
In: “the dabblerists”—did performance scores around occupy LA. Ideas
for getting active.
Ma: we have the ability to make things look good.
Le: making something printed—making something at cost or free would be
good outreach, even just to Chelsea.
Lh: partner up with WAGE for information/research/archives
Le: they have an archive going about art workers’ movements
—computer battery dies—-
Ta: ways for artists to organize in terms of labour and their own time/
needs; creating new models out of that.
Cy: forming an affinity group focusing on the labour side of A&L. CSA-
model food coop. Ultimate goal of practically and experimentally
addressing labour issues in the arts.
Ta: working with the action group.
En: dealing with existing art economy, and ways to make shifts.
Looking at the broader idea of what labour means as artists.
Za: it’s important that we express ourselves visually. Cognitive map
of labour, on an institutional/racial level. Museums already have
community outreach branches—we should partner up. Alliance poitics:
partnering with people. Outreach to students—they’re an important
component. They make things happen.
Ys: specifically addressing arts students. Debt, precarity, budget
cuts. Thinking of other kinds of artistic/cultural producers not in
the inst art world as we know it. Artist-vendors on the highline;
fashion world; graffiti world. What kind of productive limitation does
the A&L parameter create? There’s a tension between those two terms.
Building alliances in a careful manner.
Za: documentation of the group—there are some concerns. History /
lesson from African American community: result of a fear of being
documented. There has to be a consensus about how the material is
being used. Sticker “do not photograph me.”
Ys: Image circulation is part of outreach. These meeting sites can
become significant. Protocol about how meeting is used.
Ma: Information and technology. Concern about how to put together all
the information in terms of links, academic articles. Websites/things
outside of google groups. Design/tech people in the group. We also
thought about a map—inspired by Nancy’s foldout. We would work on
information and the way we represent ourselves, but also information-
Sm: how is information differentiated? Function of affect. Mobilizing
Le: Four kinds of information that we talked about: Oral history/
collection of information. Facts about A&L: making accessible/sharing.
Speculative information/disidentification. Archiving/library. Printed
information and online are two modes of dispersal. Two projects: piece
of printed matter (collab with outreach?) and online library (blog/
website) compiling resources/pooling information.
Cs: online library would have corollary of printed media.
Nn: Issues with actions: We don’t have anyone to address (like
institutions in the 70s). we are all involved. Perception of artist
involvement for self-benefit. Artist unions are a problematic idea.
There are imposed field boundaries that artists construct. Addressing
problems: engaging in deliberate research to try and target
appropriately. New School building: who owns it? Broad solidarity-
building things are in themselves a worthwhile project. In concert
with Occupy38: looking at things that have happened and learning from
them. How do we want to treat the things that are “already ours”?
Pk: GA model is newly appropriate to the kind of economy we work in.
There is no centralized enemy, and we can use that to our advantage.
There isn’t much separating us and the people who are our bosses.
OTHER AGENDA ITEMS
Ne: it’s not efficient, it’s confusing, it excludes people who cant be
online all day.
Dy: Separate google groups corresponding to the break-out groups?
Nn: Direct responses might help speed up meetings
Ne: Direct response was abused at other GAs
Nn: we’re a small enough group that it could work
Ma: there is play—you can limit direct responses
Nn: There might be reasons to start to address the publicness of our
google group. Publicness is good but not always.
Le: Concision seems to be a problem. Both in-person and in email, we
should try to pare down.
Pl: a lot of decisions are being made online. not all of us can be
online all of the time, and that excludes us.
In: Seconds Phil’s. Maybe an after-work-hours deadline of decision-
Ys: google docs get super long. Maybe indicating parameters of a
discussion in the title? Maybe a subcommittee to set up protocols?
Cy: is in general agreement w/ the problems of the google group. It
also informs the problems we have with our meetings. the temporality
of online exchanges makes it seem really open. When we’re actually
here together, there’s a disconnect—the facilitation structure is
slow. Maybe we need to set an agenda structure, not content, and plug
Ce: Expressing concern about the google group being split off onto
many google groups to “solve” this problem.
Ta: Making the agenda in person
Za: Smaller groups are more productive. The time factor is important.
The agenda should definitely be chosen before we arrive.
Dy: You can follow multiple google groups—that could be a solution.
Cs: super-clear subject lines, and agreeing to stick to the subject
Ys: being disciplined about the titling; if it corresponds to a group,
label it as such.
Jn: the content of the agenda is important, and it needs to be clear
when that’s made.
Nn: hybrid model for setting the agenda: adding agenda items at the
meeting, but setting up preliminary concerns online. Looking at some
alternative programs for organizing might be helpful.
Be: Make an agreement to be brief when possible on the google group,
use clear subject headings, stay on topic within threads, and not make
decisions before after-work hours.
Ce: friendly amendment—the night before our meeting
En: agenda can be its own thread. Whoever is facilitating pulls out
the topics. As a group, we decide how much/which we can discuss at
In: in order to start a new thread, you start an email, you don’t just
En: Synthesis: let’s try to use google groups better. Stay on-topic.
No big decisions before 10pm. Agenda as its own thread. Facilitator
will keep list of agenda items. As a group, we will decide what to
discuss at the meeting.
Ne: it is somewhat exclusive to decide things in advance online. Maybe
we can keep a list online, but also have a discussion at the beginning
of each meeting.
Second meeting day
Postponed discussion. Temp check = not now.
Cy: There’s a broad flow of people coming in/out of NS. They need
solidarity. There’s something important about being next to people who
are organized similarly/involved in similar struggles. How do we
refresh the organization of our own working group in relation to the
broader movement in a more proactive way.
Nn: perception that it’s a sanctioned occupation?
Sm: sanctioned as a soft power move. By no means a clear sanctioning
on terms set by the occupation. It’s a way for the institution to
capture a degree of power and control flow of people in/out of the
Cy: the president mediates with the landowner. They want to be
accommodating, but the trap is in the accommodation. Accommodation is
followed by control that is not necc in the interest of the occupiers.
On the other hand, the accommodation of the occupiers could multiply
the site of the occupation. They’re being offered additional spaces.
En: maybe a trial meeting at the New School? She has mixed feelings on
it—feels like it might be a play occupation. Feel it out first before
jumping into an alliance.
Nn: Second that, but showing ID is prohibitive for a meeting space.
Are there solutions?
Ys: is it indeed an open invitation to any OWS group? There is a tone
and style about the occupation: whether or not they’re even hospitable
to OWS as a movement. “Kill all cops” sign—does A&L want to affiliate
Sm: has reservations as well, but he accepts it within its limits.
There’s a heterogeneity of different groups there. A&L might use it as
an educational site.
Pk: They painted a picture of the globe over the “Kill the Cops” sign
Le : Holding a second meeting at the new school to test it out.
Ne: is that a Tuesday meeting?
Cy: their GAs are pretty heterogeneous. we could all just go sit in on
ma: their GA was 3 hours today.
Cy: it is still useful to understanding their concerns
Ys: would we need permission?
Cy: no, it’s general. The ID regulations have softened—just picture
Ne: decide on a day for the A&L group to go to the new school?
Nn: go soon and have a report-back?
Proposals for days?
Ma: the people who want to go can meet.
Be: if you want to help with the teach-in, come talk to me.