The Turner prize 2023 short list has just been announced.
I wonder if the Tate and it’s jurors have not only thought about the art work but also
How does the artist make their art?
The artist does not arise separate from the circumstances that birth them. Like all people, artists exist on either side of a global divide structured by capital, this divide determines their access to education, housing, and creative experience. Put simply: Money can be the difference between making art that circulates and making nothing at all. Money can be the thing that makes someone feel worthy enough to begin making something. Our unnamed protagonist belongs to the canon of would-be-artists, a legacy of those who couldn’t think about making work because they had to survive. Neoliberal fantasy assures
us that art can be made anywhere and by anyone – the internet has democratised almost everything – anyone can put their work out there and see what happens. But the difference between those able to survive on £16,000 a year or less is really a story about what props up the art world. The secret pots of money, passports, inheritances, lack of caring responsibilities, rent-free living, the bourgeois family.
Stripped back, every creative impulse must be read in relation to the governing structures that order social life. In an ever-worsening political economy in which wages stagnate whilst the cost-of-living rises, rent prices are unsustainable, fascists continue to mobilise and gig-economy workers are sacrificed to the demands of the market during the spread of a deadly virus… precarity is the word of the day. Precarity is instability, living paycheck to paycheck, no ability to save, no hope of security. Precarity is hustle hustle hustle: freelance on top of your zero hours contract job, UBER, TASKRABBIT, DELIVEROO, AMAZON for a bit of extra cash and ‘as a working class writer, this book would not have been possible without help from [X] grant.’ The logic of precarity seeps into almost everything; cultural institutions repackage the decadence of elite art movements in their shows to hide the misery, they succumb to reactionary cultural politics, under the watchful eye of state cuts to funding, they die a slow and painful death – killing off the artists concerned with ‘identity’ first. Toassume the art world remains untouched by the cruel logics of precarity is to assume that those who control it have our best interests at heart. This is a fatal mistake. Like most elite configurations, the art world responds to the state and its austerity-driven economy. This means cuts: cutting corners, decisions made in back rooms, union busting, silencing the whistleblowers. This means: the conditions needed for unbridled creation shrink day by day.‘Structurally F-cked’ Industria