1. After the Economy: Organising Labour and Negotiating Precarity

This particular seminar at GRADCAM was focusing on the birth of the new class, the precariat, a convenient fusion of the words proletariat and precarious. The aim, I think, was to try to situate creative people within this schematic. Magdalena Freudenschuß, a phD candidate at the Humboldt in Germany presented her perception of this growing class, which is largely unaccounted for within mainstream society, due to being outside of work, disabled or with the case of migrant workers, almost invisible. The creative class, what she called the “Digital Boheme“, which have flocked to Berlin over the last ten years, celebrate this invisibility, which they deem freedom. Furthermore, they claim this is the way all life should be led, free from the constraints of labour. However, as Freudenschuß noted, they have youth on their side, along with a variety of invisible predilections towards this sort of lifestyle. Therefore it is, I believe, quite difficult to place them within this schematic of the precariat without acknowledging the plethora of distinctions which differentiate these sub-categories.

The drive behind this seminar was to come up with some ideas around the precariat and in doing so try to figure out art’s role now, in an economic slump such as this. How can we justify state funding? The fundamental question which lies here is What’s the point of Art? and I don’t think this will ever be answered fully enough for this government to heed our concerns. A funny thing happened yesterday also. What seemed to be alluded to over and over again was the centrality of community-based work to arts’ raison d’être. Now, stop me if I’m wrong, but surely no one would use community based art as a shining example of how art contributes. Good such work is few and far between in Ireland and we shouldn’t have to use it in order to justify arts role.


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