The present-day economic downturn is reminiscent of the Great Depression in terms of the overall morass of poverty, unemployment, and foreclosures, yet key differences separate the two eras. The 1930s was a time of massive organizing, strikes, union activity, and dissent that forced FDR and the New Deal to the left. 2009 (or 2013) does not provide us with such inspiring levels of resistance.

If the 1930s can teach us one key lesson, it is the need to organize. Nothing changes when people do not engage in the long and difficult work of building a diverse, multi-cultural, working class movement from the ground up. This includes artists. Fortunately, the 1930s provides us with multiple examples of how artists worked collectively to confront the economic crisis of their time.

What the Artists’ Union of the 1930s Can Teach Us Today by Nicolas Lampert

Improvisieren zwischen Kunst und Ökonomie

Unternehmen schicken ihre Mitarbeiter in Improvisations-Workshops, damit sie von Musikern, Tänzern oder Schauspielern lernen, wie man sich produktiv dem Unplanbaren aussetzt. Denn an den turbulenten Märkten, so scheint es, sind alle zum spontanen Reagieren gezwungen. Doch das kollektive Improvisieren im Arbeitsteam soll noch aus einer anderen Verlegenheit helfen: In den postfordistischen Ökonomien wird es immer schwieriger zu bestimmen, was Arbeit wert ist. An die Stelle von Arbeitsleistung tritt »work performance«, und deren Bewertung verknüpft ökonomische Kriterien direkt mit sozialen: Ob das, was jemand tut, ein fataler Fehler oder ein bahnbrechender innovativer Einfall gewesen sein wird, entscheiden immer erst die Reaktionen der anderen.

by Kai van Eikels

Frieze Art Fair NY


Facts About the Frieze NY “Rat” Fair

• Frieze is a for-profit event that pays less than $1/ sq ft to lease city park land for two months.

• Frieze makes art inaccessible to many working New Yorkers with a ticket price of $42 per person.

• Frieze would rather bring in low-wage, non-union labor from WI, than pay NYers a living wage.

• Frieze is the only major NYC art fair using non-union labor to construct its fair.

Call the Frieze Office: 212 463 7488
Twitter: #FNY13 #FriezeRatFair @FriezeNewYork


Letter to artists, gallerists, fair workers, and attendees of Frieze New York Art Fair

To artists, gallerists, workers, and fairgoers attending Frieze New York:

For the second year in a row, Frieze and its subcontractor Production Glue have hired low-wage, non-unionized workers to construct their fair, bringing in people from as far away as Wisconsin. This breaks with the industry standard: the major New York City art fairs including the Armory and the ADAA, as well as many other cultural and business expositions, employ unionized workers to construct and run their shows.

Frieze is a for-profit private event that takes over a municipal public park for two months to serve a global clientele of wealthy art collectors. The fair pays less than $1 per square foot to lease the land from the city. With a ticket price of $42 per day, Frieze is inaccessible to many working New Yorkers. However, despite the cheap rent and high admission prices to an event that generates millions of dollars in art sales, Frieze claims it cannot afford to pay decent wages to local workers.  Read more…