PANEL TALK | Producing a reserve army of cultural labor, or, the surpluses of Slovene cultural policy 2005–2015
28 January 2016 | 18:00

The panel talk is part of Crisis and New Beginnings. Art in Slovenia 2005-2015 exhibition programme.


Museum of Contemporary Art  Metelkova, Maistrova 3


Participants:  Ana Čigon, Vesna Čopič, Neven Korda, Tjaša Pureber; concept and moderating Katja Praznik


The problem of unpaid labor in culture is not a new thing, and neither is the precarious position of artists and cultural workers, in particular those for whom positions in public cultural institutions do not exist. In recent years, the public at large has become acquainted with the issues of the working conditions and labor relations of precarious workers, in culture and elsewhere, through numerous articles, interviews and commentaries. Precarious forms of labor, i.e., labor without social security, are a result of the so-called flexibilization of the labor market, one of the characteristics of neoliberal politics plaguing the young generations and increasingly dominant since the 1990s. Where does work in the field of art belong to in this new political order? Is artistic work work like any other, demanding not only payment but also protection of social rights, or is this type of work bound to have special status, representing in an idealized sense practices beyond wage labor? While the text “Producing a Reserve Army of Cultural Labor” analyzes precarious workers – or, as Guy Stranding calls them, the “precariat” produced by the neoliberal politics of flexibilization – using Marx’s concept of a reserve army of labor in order to demonstrate the nonstrategic practice of cultural politics with regard to the regulation of cultural labor which began in late socialism, showing its implacable effects over the last decade, the purpose of the panel of the same title is above all a discussion about the ways, strategies, and tactics that could create the critical potential for the members of the reserve army of cultural labor to (self) organize. Rather than thematizing and explaining the now well-known economically depressed living and working conditions of precarious cultural workers, the panel wishes to instigate debate about what would be necessary in order to organize constructive practices in culture that would enable a politicization of precarious working conditions in culture. Which obstacles are preventing the precariat’s political struggle in culture and how can they be overcome?

Katja Praznik


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