Collaborative 24hr performance event

 focusing on labour practices in visual art- 17:00|06.08.13

Twitter  @wwar2013

WWAR: some background context

 Wicklow Working Artists Research group is comprised of a number of artists and cultural producers grounded in different disciplines who originally came together in 2012 after a call from The Mermaid Arts Centre and Wicklow County Council.  At the onset, research and discussions were focussed on the conditions of labour for contemporary artists that underpin and support the economies of art markets and organisations on global and local levels.  All forms of neo-liberal enterprise geared towards the production of capital, necessitate cheap (and where possible) free labour and the hierarchical structures of Art Organisations and the markets they support are no exception. Karl Marx described this process as ‘primitive accumulation’ and it is today evident in the proliferation of unpaid interns and artists working without fees or remuneration in a range of endeavours and events.  The Wicklow Working Artist Research group is thusly concerned with researching, discussing and disseminating the findings of this research through creative practices. The political economy of art production and attempting to give some form and expression to the conditions of existence of the contemporary artist are two of the main driving forces behind the group.

WWAR is by its own admission, not a collective in the traditional sense however does rely on collectivisation. Collectives enforce compromises of practice on individuals operating under a specific doctrine, either through aesthetic or conceptual concerns.   In WWAR, each practitioners ‘work’ retains autonomy, can take any form and may or may not be considered as belonging to a specific set of aspirations and outcomes.  This diversity and ambiguity is symptomatic of Creative Dark Matter – the financially unsupported, critically unloved majority of artistic labourers and cultural producers without whom, the Art Market would not be able to sanctify and therefore profit from the celebrated celebrity artist from whom capitalistic gain is created for the few at the expense of the many. This Creative Dark Matter is vast, contains artists of all ages and at all stages of their careers all of whom work tirelessly to increase their visibility in increasingly fragmented and atomised late-capitalist structures.

The theoretical framework for this group was grounded in the most part by Gregory Sholette’s Dark Matter: Art and Enterprise in the Age of Enterprise Culture and further informed by Anton Vidokle’s Art Without Market, Art Without Education: The Political Economy of Art as well as texts such as Walter Benjamin’s The Author as Producer. During several meetings held over a number of months it was decided to make work that embodied Labour, Work and Action which led to the decision to occupy a disused commercial premises in Bray for a period of 24 hours and to reappropriate thee premises into an active space used to make art as a response to the research undertaken.

In a former Jewellery shop, seven people spent 24 hours continuously working on their practices.  The activities differed from individual to individual however, what bound these together was the context in which the ‘event’ had been situated. It was a performance of sorts but was not performance art. On some level the activity was reminiscent of subversion, reappropriation and increasing the visibility of an occupation that occurs largely in the dark while at the same time, maintaining important connections to economics (an empty commercial premises in a local economy affected by national economic policies and fallout), labour - 24 hour round the clock production and action - occupation and reaffirmation.