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  • Still lifes from our apartement

    Still lifes from our apartement
    Some reflections on the artist as a model for the “ideal worker” in neoliberal times

    Captions for the images:

    Image 1: The bedroom
    List of objects featured in the image:
    1. the breakfast table (Used not for breakfast in bed but for the possibility to work at any time. Because there are no regular working hours for the freelance artist, work can happen at any time or all the time and any aspect of life can become a method or a subject for work. Of course that work can be in itself pleasure and gratification, as long as work means accumulating different knowledges and skills and as long as work can be many times an intimate process of self-searching, a means to give shape to your ideas and beliefs, and a process of making sense of the world. But beyond this first level of work as learning and self-enhancement, there is the question: whom does this self-enhancement serve? When we say this, we are not referring only to the simplest aspect of the matter, that can be summarised in the questions “where the money come from?” and “who gets symbolical capital out of your work?”. But also we are asking ourselves what are the consequences of this model of the cultural worker as an “entrepreneur of the self,” a model that blurs the boundaries between work and life, and that normalises instability, uncertainty and individualism as the prices that have to be paid for autonomy?)
    2. laptop
    3. notice board with to-do lists (Detailed planning is extremely important, so that time is used efficiently and so that you can constantly self-monitor your work. Although the next few months are carefully planned, still it is impossible to know what will happen in one year from now, so any important decisions – will I still be living here? should I have a child? etc. – cannot be taken at this point.)
    4. leaflets from different art exhibitions and cultural events
    5. plain tickets (In order to make a living you have to constantly move from one project to another, from one place to another and your own local context – your city, your neighbourhood – becomes sometimes almost as foreign and unknown as any other context where you travel and work. Anyway, as long as you cannot afford to take vacations, this travelling can also pass as a vacation, sometimes.)
    6. cell phone (Making new contacts and keeping in touch is part of the job. Visiting an event of a fellow cultural worker, but also a dinner with friends, or going out for drinks etc. can be good networking opportunities.)
    7. instant coffee
    8. sleeping pills (They could be also vitamins or pain killers for headaches, anything that relieves the constant tension that you would be the only one responsible if you fail.)

    Image 2: The bathroom
    List of objects featured in the image:
    1. health insurance invoice (The issuing institution of this invoice is still a state owned institution, but not for long, probably. This invoice still guarantees health care for one year at the price of approximately 120 euros, but in order to have this minimal price, you have to sign a paper stating that you have no income. Sometimes this is true, and anyway, at the beginning of the year, when this paper has to be signed, it is possible that you don’t know yet for sure if you will have an income at all or not, so, most of the time, you can sign the paper in a clear conscience.)
    2. writing paper from a fancy hotel where we stayed once for a few nights, in connection with a project
    3. shampoo bottle “So sexy”
    4. tooth past that prevents paradontosis
    5. four leaves clover

    Image 3: The kitchen
    List of objects featured in the image:
    1. newspaper with the headlines saying: “How much and when will they cut from us?” (Referring to the recent measures taken by Romanian government to solve the crisis of capital on the expenses of the last remains of the welfare state.)
    2. laptop with a search page opened. The key words for the search are: “grants in artistic and cultural field, projects that aim social change.” (Of course this search opens up a lot of questions, such as: What are the possibilities of critique and actual change when critique is funded by the very same bodies that represent the critiqued reality? How can you avoid the fact that your work becomes a mere form that validates the “democratic” character of the present system? How can you avoid your critique to be incorporated while you need money and infrastructure in order to make your work visible and hopefully efficient? Are there only two choices: compromise or invisibility? Or how can you maneuver between all these different pressures and needs: to do a meaningful work through which you can make your stance visible and reach others, to earn a living, to remain honest about the means and the purposes of your work?)
    3. books (We chose not to make visible the titles but these are books that are important to us, that give us inspiration and that motivates us in our work, books that analyse and critique the present situation in the times of global capitalism as times when any idea, any position, any action, any form of life is in the constant danger of being incorporated by capital and rendered meaningless, and books that envision possibilities of resistance and of reclaiming life, possibilities of finding ways out.)