In Brief

Marina Abramović Institute Seeks So Much Unpaid Work

Marina Abramović (screenshot via Vimeo)
Marina Abramović (screenshot via Vimeo)

Good news: the Marina Abramović Institute is hiring! Bad news: all four positions listed in this fresh New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) ad are unpaid — ahem, volunteer. They’re probably great “opportunities,” though, right?

Let’s take a look.

1. Administrative Volunteer

  • Work: “general administrative duties, planning art-based special events, and development.”
  • Skills required: “excellent writing skills, the ability to multi-task, proficiency in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, and prior experience working in a fast-paced arts non-profit or other administrative position.”
  • (Nonmonetary, intangible) benefits: “the opportunity to grow within the organization and expand professional networks.”

2. Tech and Production Volunteer

  • Work: “development and maintenance of IMMATERIAL, MAI’s digital journal.”
  • Skills required: Unclear, but they are looking for people “who would like to expand their knowledge of Javascript / JSON / Jquery, HTML5, CSS, Video streaming via Vimeo and/or Youtube Live,” which implies that you should already have some knowledge of these things.
  • (Nonmonetary, intangible) benefits: “a unique opportunity to hone technology skills on a highly visible, emerging arts platform.”
  • Bonus job volunteer position: “We also have volunteer opportunities for assistance with video and audio production, photo editing, and print layout.” Awesome, because I was wondering about that.

3. Special Projects Volunteer

  • Work: “preparing and working on collaborative in-person and digital projects.”
  • Skills required: “excellent organization and communication skills, proficiency in Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite and basic HTML / CSS coding, familiarity with non-profit administration, comfort collaborating with partners in and outside of the arts and strong passion for the expanding the role of arts and sciences in various communities”
  • (Nonmonetary, intangible) benefits: none, but “artists are encouraged to apply”!

4. Research Volunteer

  • Work: “researching for the content of IMMATERIAL”
  • Skills required: “based in New York City and have a college-level background in art history, performance art, and/or performance art studies. Strong writing skills required. Additional background in at least two of the following: the sciences, research assistance, curatorial practice, performing arts, fine arts, photography / video.”
  • (Nonmonetary, intangible) benefits: none, unless you are “a critical thinker who wants to apply their skills to a large-scale collaborative project” and find that this fits the bill.

All of these positions have at least two-day-a-week commitments — which, amazingly, makes them sound even more like part-time work than they already do.

Abramović raised over $660,000 for her institute on Kickstarter in June and recently “collaborated” with Adidas. Yet somehow she cannot afford to pay people to work for MAI. (In the process she makes Jeff Koons, who boasted on Charlie Rose this week about how many people he employs, look like a saint.) We can only hope that, one day, someone who toils without compensation within the MAI apparatus will grab hold of their social media and give us something as good as this:


Addendum: There have been some great, strong reactions on Twitter to the job posting, including:

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