Art World Addicted to Unpaid Work, Survey Finds

In other news: Tate Modern neighbours lose privacy battle; Theaster Gates to lead diversity push at Prada

Artist’s studio, 2016. Courtesy: Barcroft Media via Getty Images; photograph: Susannah Ireland

Artist’s studio, 2016. Courtesy: Barcroft Media via Getty Images; photograph: Susannah Ireland

The arts sector is hooked on unpaid labour, and working practices that ‘wouldn’t be tolerated in any other industry’, Arts Professional reports from their 2018 survey of pay and earnings across the cultural industries. The study suggests long periods of unpaid work and expectations of further work outside of official hours have become rife – with those on temporary or freelance contracts bearing the brunt. Among the 224 respondents whose earnings for the 2017/18 fiscal year came from freelance of self-employed labour in the arts sector, the average income came to just GBP£16,000, the survey found. Respondents to the survey also suggested that, in some outfits, working for long hours was regarded as a test of commitment, such that ‘working contracted hours is perceived as not wanting to go the extra mile’. Don’t miss Chris Sharratt writing on recent studies highlighting deep precarity within the art world, alongside a renewed push for fairer compensation and resistance to ‘self-exploitation’.

Residents of multi-million-pound flats neighbouring London’s Tate Modern have lost their privacy battle against visitors to the art gallery peering into their homes. Residents of the Neo Bankside development on the South Bank claimed that a viewing platform at Tate had created a ‘relentless’ invasion of their private space. One resident described the experience as like living in a zoo. The gallery suggested that they could just ‘draw the blinds’ – and the claim was dismissed at the High Court this week. Justice Mann commented: ‘These properties are impressive, and no doubt there are great advantages to be enjoyed in such extensive glassed views, but that in effect comes at a price in terms of privacy.’ Mann suggested that the residents could invest in solar blinds, privacy film and tall plants.

Prada has recruited artist Theaster Gates and director Ava DuVernay to help the Italian fashion house on a new push for diversity. The news follows significant backlash over Prada’s ‘Pradamlia’ line, unveiled last December, which included monkey figurines with exaggerated lips that critics called out for evoking blackface; the pieces were later pulled. The fashion world has in recent weeks been hit by further blackface controversies, including shoe designs for Katy Perry’s brand, and a sweater produced by Gucci. Prada said that their new Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, chaired by DuVernay and Gates, would aim at ensuring ‘the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live’, with a focus on hiring people of colour.

Bisi Silva, renowned curator and founder of the Center for Contemporary Art, Lagos, has passed away at the age of 57, following a battle with cancer. In 2017, Silva sat down with frieze to discuss her remarkable career, and her work with CCA which opened in 2007, telling us: ‘When I relocated to Lagos in 2002, I couldn’t find a space that would allow me to develop this expanded notion of curatorial practice. Most of the galleries were commercial and, as far as I knew, there were no non-profits. Government institutions were moribund and there was no place for young artists interested in experimenting with media other than painting and sculpture. I realized then that I would have to start an organization that supported new artistic and curatorial possibilities.’

In galleries, awards and appointments news: Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art has reopened after a two-month refurbishment led by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA; Cindy Sherman has won the Max Beckmann Prize which comes with an award of EUR€50,000; Axel Rüger, director of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, has been named the new head of London’s Royal Academy of Arts; Dallas Contemporary in Texas has appointed Laurie Ann Farrell as senior curator; Atlanta-based Souls Grown Deep Foundation has named Raina Lampkins-Fielder as curator; Mexican artist Teresa Margolles is now represented by James Cohan gallery; Lehmann Maupin represents the LA ‘Light and Space’ artist Helen Pashgian.

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