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A no-nonsense guide for socially engaged artists

MayDay Artists Conference
Chelsea college of Art, 2001

The conference is aimed to turn the growing unrest among artists to a political act that will improve the actual life conditions of individual artists and democratise their participation in the art institution. One of the general issues is the future of the art scene in London; I see it as one of the last remnants of Thatcherism combined with characteristics of global capitalism. We will attack the hierarchic form of its establishment, the way the resources are distributed between artists and institutions, the decision making in galleries and museums that is formed in the shape of capitalist enterprises, the dispossession of artists from the huge profits that the private sector as a whole benefits from their activity.

The workshops will be dedicated to a discussion of the possible uses in the future of existing institutions - such as Tate Modern. Other workshops will deal with salary standards for art workers as employees or freelances,self management of artist's practice, involvement of artists in their communities life, the institution of art in the light of global capitalism, art as a form of global resistance. We are trying to get artists whose commitment to the political has been long and uncorrupted. It is important to build links from the close past (art strikes) to the present moment.

There is a history of the political act in art that inspires students and artists. Those who want to engage themselves with the practice and continue the project of negation and subversion of capitalism through art would like to form a route of dialogue with experienced artists . Another goal is mixing and involving students and college-staff in the discussions, together with well established artists and negate hierarchic divisions.

The format will be a general assembly with a few speakers (about 15-20 minutes each) and workshops for smaller groups in order to enable people to talk freely. The lunch break will be an occasion for informal discussion.

There is an option for other short art projects during the day. There might be continuity for the conference by proposing future projects, formation of groups or any other way that individuals will choose.