Thursday, May 7, 2015
6-9PM (One Night Only)
"Artists don't get down to work until the pain of working is greater than the pain of not working."
You Show Us Yours, We'll Show You Ours is an anonymous, electronically distributed survey about art and work. M’Aidez has derived Acceptable Risks, an experimental hypertext narrative excerpted from and collectively riffing on the first wave of responses (in both statistic and essay form) to this survey. We have also installed a large-scale wall work representing the massivity and detail of the data that the first wave of survey participants has generously provided to us over the past few weeks. Those still wishing to participate in the survey, and gain access to the unencrypted results, have an ongoing opportunity to do so, both here at Compliance Division during the opening reception and on an ongoing basis from the privacy of their homes.
You Show Us Yours, We'll Show You Ours began as a personal resolution: always talk about money. Decorum dictates not discussing wages, inheritances, subsidies and gifts because of money's tie to our sense of personal worth. Politeness appears compassionate, at least at first. In art, a space of class cross-pollination, what is authentic is often viewed as separate from money—the proverbially pure starving artist. Hence, politeness and authenticity conspire to create a class blindness and a veneer of unity in purpose. Of course, we know that being blind to something doesn't make it go away. It's obviously naive to assume that the art world is a meritocracy, but M'Aidez as a group believes that the power of art lies in it’s potential autonomy, from systems like capitalism, whose sway blows the rain sideways. Art is where wealth comes to buy ethics and erudition in an act akin to money laundering. When we notice this function it is incumbent upon each of us to ask ourselves where we reside within this system—to tally our assets and liabilities and come clean about how we got to our bottom line.
We were also curious about how other artists see themselves-- how labor and compensation fit into both our worldview and our motivation. How, or if, we strike a work/life balance. How foregrounded or backgrounded is artistic practice in comparison to our occupation(s)? How do artists make (it) work? How do artists come by our stability, time and access - aka, our wealth? How do we create and assign value to our networks and net worths? What are our debts and our surpluses and how do they affect our lifestyle?
While the artworks we have created for this exhibition perhaps only echo, rather than answer, these questions, You Show Us Yours, We’ll Show You Ours functions both as a discreet artwork unto itself and an ever-expanding tool with which to parse the complex relationships that artists have with success, freedom, sustainability, money and labor. Every artist who contributes to this survey may access and utilize the full data set as it updates. We extend our deepest gratitude to the participants who made this investigation possible: Thank you, so much, for your work.
In Privilege and Precarity,
M'Aidez is a collaboration between three arts workers: Compliance Division directors Hannah Piper Burns and T Nikolai and Naught Collective Central Coordinator of Research and Participation Daniel Mackin Freeman.