ArtLeaks Plans Gazette to Talk About Art-World Corruption

Zampa di Leone, "ArtLeaks"
Zampa di Leone, “ArtLeaks” (2011) (image via Facebook)

The art world is a notoriously secretive place. Even though it’s pretty much universally agreed upon that the system and its attendant economics are royally screwed up, people are still hesitant to talk openly about the problems. In the past year, thankfully, this has been shifting a bit, due in part to the efforts of Occupy Museums, Arts & Labor, and other OWS-offshoot groups, as well as organizations like W.A.G.E., which presented the data it gathered from a 2010 survey about payments to artists who exhibited with nonprofit institutions. (The conclusion? Artists are [fucking] poor. Why? Because they often go unpaid.)

But there’s still plenty of corruption and injustice to go around, and one group trying to fight that is ArtLeaks. Created by a crew of curators, artists, art historians, and critics, and modeling its title on the infamous WikiLeaks, ArtLeaks is trying to bring that same level of whistle-blowing transparency to the art world. They function in a similar way to WikiLeaks, too, asking people to submit (anonymously or not) reports on situations at cultural institutions with accompanying evidence — firsthand reports, email correspondence, official documents, etc.

But now the group is going one step further — or backwards, depending on how you view the act of publishing an art journal — and creating the ArtLeaks Gazette. The gazette will be dedicated to the same core themes and issues, but with an open invitation to any writers who have something to say. The founders explain their reasoning on the ArtLeaks website:

After over a year of activity, we, members of the collective ArtLeaks felt an urgent need to establish a regular on-line publication as a tool for empowerment in the face of the systemic abuse of cultural workers’ basic labor rights, repression or even blatant censorship and growing corporatization of culture that we encounter today.

These are issues we’ve written about at Hyperallergic before, so I’m excited about the prospect of an entire journal built around these questions. I’m also, admittedly, a little worried about dense, theoretical and Occupy-esque jargon creeping in and obscuring the debate, but let’s stay hopeful for now.

The theme for the first issue will be “Breaking the Silence — Towards Justice, Solidarity and Mobilization,” with the journal  broken up into six sections, among them “Critique of cultural dominance apparatuses” and “Education and its discontents.” ArtLeaks is taking submissions until December 31, and the resulting gazette will be published online under a Creative Commons attribution noncommercial-share license. There’s no mention on the website of whether contributors will be paid — which, given the context, seems pretty important.

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