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Today there is a proliferation of the so-called political art projects. The growing number of the organisers of biennales and other big shows feel it neccessary to be concern with the heavily political issues such as: globalisation, democracy, participatory and communal practices, radical imagination, and so on. But, at the same time we can hardly hear of the appearance of any new art movement, we do not remember any manifestation of collective power of artist and intellectuals that would claim the voice and put a pressure on the system, we never experience any strikes or sabotage that would be directed even against the most disgusting art projects, any personal or collective withdrawal from shows, and the basic issues such as the artist fee has not been resolved despite the fact that most artists do not produce commodities for the market. How do these two trends come together?
From the history we know many examples of artists who have tried to organize themselves and struggle together, not only to improve their working conditions (access to studios, wages, social security, etc.), but also to advance the demand that the whole system of cultural production should be changed, that artists should cease to be artists in the privileged and acknowledged sense of the word. These collective struggles have often happened in historical situations when such mobilizations went hand in hand with more general demands for social change. But they have also happened in reactionary time, when artists pressed their views on the future of art and demanded that its potential be reconsidered outside the coercive, reified power of art institutions. At the same time, history has taught us that these kinds of organizations have mostly appeared during brief moments of mobilization and have not been enduring. Their radical gestures were doomed to vanish, leaving behind merely inspiring examples which is now have been commodified by the mainstream of cultural production.
In this publication we will discuss the historical forms of art workers organizations and their relation to the current conjuncture in society and the art world, where any discussion of smashing the hegemonic system of cultural industry can sound like groundless speculation.
We hope that this publication will help us answer the following questions:
1.What are the the most exciting and powerful examples of collective organization in art?
2.Is there any perspective for artists, as the most precarious producers, to build new sustainable organisations that would oppose the profit-driven logic of the market and the economization of cultural production?
3. How is the struggle of artists related to general issues of social and political struggle?
How can they be made to connect with each other?
4. What kind of political organization do cultural workers need today?
Trade unions? Soviets? Art movements? Networks?
Is it time to think about something radically different from all that we have known before?
5. To put it more simply, what is that artists can and must do together now?