Group project — Tate Modern
Tate Exchange: Studio Complex

How to survive as an artist in the metropolis: “Could it be a park bench?”





24 January 2018

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy Year 1 (2017-2019)
︎TATE EXCHANGE INFORMATION︎ Tate Modern explores state of the art studios, The Financial Times


The studio does not belong to the artist. It is a social space, inseparable from the rhythms of the metropolis. That gridlocked obscenity, shuffling its subjects to the tempo set by the logistics of privatisation and regulated by the extensions of managerial logic.

It is not the city that makes scarce the time and space for artistic and intellectual pursuit. It is the City, with the politics of labour that it demands from institutions such as CSM and Tate, a politics of easy conversion, from quality into measurable and exchangeable quantities. Art is the commodity, and the artist is the labourer without the luxury of a contract.

All this leaves us with is the promise of precarity: part-time lectureships, self-funded shows, unpaid internships, Deliveroo jobs and a life-long neurosis from vain attempts to try to reconcile the logic of the market with the lived labour of artistic production.
Thus, when the Tate and CSM speculate about the studio of the future: “Could it be a park bench (...)?”¹ They offer us a vision of what always-already lies ahead of us; the uninhibited horizon of homelessness for those who stay, or begrudging exile for those who can leave; because our labour has neither use nor value for a society in deep crisis.

Tate, with the help of CSM, has assembled a workforce of 200 qualified labourers to produce entertainment and cultural capital for Tate and its visitors, free of charge. At London Living Wage, with a minimum of two hours of work each, the total value saved by Tate with this operation amounts to £4080 (not including the weeks of labour in preparation). Will the Tate re-invest this amount to subsidise affordable studio spaces for young art graduates? Or will we have to find our own park benches?

Precarity is not a performance piece. Unpaid labour is exploitation.

¹ http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/tate-exchange/workshop/studio-complex







Next ︎