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Creative Extraction: Why are Art Schools at the Vanguard of Unreasonable Debt Burdens?

A conversation with Coco Fusco

organized by Occupy Museums:

Friday, December 5, 2014, 6-8 pm:

In recent years, we have witnessed many art school graduates snared into unpayable debt traps through the skyrocketing tuitions paired with low earning potential. Debtfair by Occupy Museums, currently on view in the exhibition Work It Out, is a proposal for an alternative art fair that aims to alleviate the debt crisis in the Art World. While proposing a solution based on solidarity, Debtfair also examines the interconnections that exist between student debt, exploitative labor conditions in the art industry, and alliances between the art market and multinational banks and corporations.

 

How does the “Art World,” whether willingly or unwittingly, take part in an inter-connected web of globalizing neo-liberal economy? While the Art World frolics amid the markets of the Miami Basel Art Fairs, Occupy Museums invites artist and educator, Coco Fusco to introduce a less glamorous section of the Art World: an art education complex paralleled with global practices of labor exploitation, predatory lending, and the privatization of culture. We will discuss broader ranges of oppressive practices, including tuition hikes, predatory lending to students, and the increasing precariousness of faculty positions that parallels other service-labor.

 

 

Occupy Museums was initiated from the Occupy Wall Street Arts and Culture working Group in Liberty Park by artist Noah Fischer's manifesto of October 19, 2011. After the first action at Museum of Modern Art, it quickly became a working group which has included many people at different times including Jolanta Gora-Witta, Max Liboroirn, Maraya Lopez, Alexandre Carvalho, Blithe Riley, Andrea Liu, Maria Byck, Ben Laude, Cari Machet, Jim Costanzo, Nitasha Dhillon, Joulia Strauss, and Maureen Connor among many others. The core members are Tal Beery, Imani Jacqueline Brown, Noah Fischer, and Arthur Polendo. They have also collaborated and overlapped with many other groups including G.U.L.F, the Novads, Winter Holiday Camp, Arts and Labor, Occupy the Pipeline, and artists including Kenneth Pietrobono, the Aaron Burr Society, Artur Zmijewski, Maureen Connor, Julia Strauss, Pawel Althamer, and William Powhida.

 

Coco Fusco is an interdisciplinary artist and writer and MIT’s MLK Visiting Scholar for 2014-2015. She is a recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2013 Absolut Art Writing Award, a 2013 Fulbright Fellowship, a 2012 US Artists Fellowship and a 2003 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Fusco's performances and videos have been presented in two Whitney Biennials (2008 and 1993), BAM’s Next Wave Festival, the Sydney Biennale, The Johannesburg Biennial, The Kwangju Biennale, The Shanghai Biennale, InSite O5, Mercosul, Transmediale, The London International Theatre Festival, VideoBrasil and Performa05. Her works have also been shown at the Tate Liverpool, The Museum of Modern Art, The Walker Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. She is represented by Alexander Gray Associates in New York.

 

Fusco is the author of English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas (1995) and The Bodies that Were Not Ours and Other Writings (2001), and A Field Guide for Female Interrogators (2008). She is also the editor of Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas (1999) and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (2003). She is currently working on a new book entitled Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba.

 

Fusco's work combines electronic media and performance in a variety of formats, from staged multi-media performances incorporating large scale projections and closed circuit television to live performances streamed to the internet that invite audiences to chart the course of action through chat interaction. Her most recent performance, Observations of Predation in Humans: A Lecture by Dr. Zira, Animal Psychologist, revives the character from Planet of the Apes to offer a commentary on contemporary forms of aggression that is supplemented by multimedia illustration.

 

Fusco received her B.A. in Semiotics from Brown University (1982), her M.A. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University (1985) and her Ph.D. in Art and Visual Culture from Middlesex University (2007).