The debate surrounding performance art and the rights of artists has started to grow past the original controversy initiated by Marina Abramović’s gala performance for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art earlier this month. Now, three reperformers who took part in MoMA’s Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present retrospective last year have come forward to support the efforts to reexamine why major art institutions don’t pay adequately for the time and efforts of performers and reperformers, as artist who stage previously staged works by performance artists are known.
The letter, published on The Performance Club, explains:
Leading up to the Abramović retrospective in 2010, the 39 “reperformers” engaged in a series of successful negotiations with the MoMA for better wages and working conditions. The initial offer we received from the museum struck many of us as untenable: $50 for a 2 1/2 hour performance shift, no compensation for prep time or time in between shifts, and, most troublingly, no workman’s compensation, which would cover us in the case of injury. Through a first round of negotiations, we achieved a modest pay increase and a change of status to “temporary employee,” which provided us workman’s compensation and some other benefits. However, we were only able to approach a fair wage for our work after two fainting performers made evident the difficulty and risk of our work. Still, we were not paid enough to avoid working other jobs during the run of the exhibit.
The three individuals who penned the letter, Abigail Levine, Gary Lai and Rebecca Brooks, outline some of the pressing questions in this debate:
Do the performers lose their agency? Does an action that is challenging when framed as art become exploitative when framed as entertainment? The issues Rainer raises of the homogeneity of the performers, in terms of race and body type, are also vital concerns.
These are all excellent questions that deserve careful examination in light of current Occupy Wall Street debates and the growing concern for labor rights in this country.
The trio also write, “We are pleased to see an active debate emerging around these issues in the last few weeks.” Yes, we are too. Now, what are we to do to ensure the rights of performance artists?
New research contests the myth that it was Christianity’s opposition to public nudity that led to the decline in large-scale bathing in the late Roman Empire.
An exhibition at San Francisco’s Letterform Archive highlights typography’s role in iconic social movements from the 1800s through the present.
Contemporary art, original sketches, and more explore how the Japanese character sprung from the pages of a manga and became a global cultural sensation.
Rocks, ducks, and a self-organized survey of Gingham are some of the things to see right now in four Chicago art galleries.
Three weeks into their strike, part-time professors are escalating their protests, backed by public figures and disgruntled parents.
Eleven Contemporary Artists Explore the Meaning of Shelter at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
Artists collaborate with nonprofit institutions and field experts to examine historical and contemporary determinants of housing and the feelings of safety and connection integral to places of living.
More than a dozen activists participated in the action, organized by the group Woman Life Freedom NYC.
The Wellcome Collection closed the long-term exhibition Medicine Man for concerns of “racism, sexism, and ableism.”
The award-winning Canadian artist explores notions of power through the imagery of science fiction in portraits, sculpture, and objects.
Eva Hagberg’s new book sheds light on the relationship between critic and publicist Aline Louchheim and architect Eero Saarinen.
If there is an object you have ever desired in your life, rest assured that someone in the advertising industry made money convincing you of exactly that.
This affordable, interdisciplinary program with excellent facilities and private studios offers in-person instruction for 2023.
Custodians, groundskeepers, and movers at the Rhode Island School of Design are seeking wage improvement, healthcare benefits, and a retirement package.
Ceramic fried eggs, critiques of real estate, and a whole booth dedicated to female-identifying saints caught my eye at Untitled, NADA, and Art Miami.