Precarity: Contingency in Artmaking and Academia

Curated by Lorelei Stewart

Artists and organizations included: Christian Nagler, Ahmet Öğüt (with Natasha Sadr Haghighian, Dan Perjovschi, Martha Rosler, and Superflex), Cassie Thornton and the Feminist Economics Department (the FED), and Vanessa Viruet and Julia Arredondo of Vice Versa Press, Adjunct Commuter Weekly, BFAMFAPhD, Occupy Museums, PrecariCorps

In response to a nexus of economics that make it increasingly difficult to earn a living as artists, obtain higher education, and work within colleges and universities, Precarity: Contingency in Artmaking and Academia examines artistic and activist approaches to critical economic issues in US education and art making. These issues include income inequality, rates of artist compensation, wage stagnation, the precarity of part-time faculty, rising tuition costs, and increasing student debt. Through satire, exposition, creative solutions, advocacy, and other inventive means, the artists in this exhibition seek outcomes outside current social and economic models, while making clear the costs of these growing crises.

From print publications for commuting adjunct professors, to sculptures that function as collection points for a student debt canceling initiative, to a performance that considers the legacy of free market proponent and economist Milton Friedman, the artists in this exhibition confront the critical issues facing higher education today. Situating this exhibition in a university setting allows both students and faculty—in other words, those most deeply affected by the precarious nature of American academia—as well as our wider Gallery 400 community, to collectively engage with these issues affecting us all.

Precarity: Contingency in Artmaking and Academia is part of Standard of Living, an ongoing series of exhibitions and events that explore shifts in economies and work. Topics covered in the series include how and where economic exchange takes place, new models for sustainable economies, employment-driven migration, and relationships between place, work, and economic viability. A key component of this series is community involvement. Partnerships, relationships, and dialogues with community organizations, labor unions, and artists help guide the development of exhibitions and events.