The ABC of the Projectariat
Living and working in a precarious art world
Published by Manchester University Press, 2021
Labour has taken an about-turn. From Adam Smith’s proposal for specialisation which saw the factory line reorganised so that each worker needed to understand only a small aspect of the production process, many industries now rely on access to specialised skills and resources that are commanded at-hoc in discrete, time- and output-bound chunks.
This is the logic of projects. The workforce no longer dedicates itself to the making of a singular commodity, as it was the case with Smith, but bids for discrete pieces of work when those are in demand. In some industries, for example, in the art world, the workforce is also charged with building the demand for their work by initiating the project which would then employ them.
The ABC of the Projectariat by Kuba Szreder contributes new thinking on and practical responses to the widespread problem of precarious labour in contemporary art. It is both a critical analysis and a practical handbook, speaking to and about the vast cohort of artistic freelancers worldwide. Kuba Szreder speaks to Pierre d’Alancaisez about the artistic project, and the effects of projectarisation on workers’ solidarity, communal governance, and the precarity of artistic activity.
Kuba Szreder is a lecturer in the department of art theory at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He combines his research with independent curatorial practice. His previous publications include Joy Forever: Political Economy of Social Creativity (2011) and Art Factory: Division of Labor and Distribution of Resources in the Field of Contemporary Art in Poland (2014). In 2018, together with Kathrin Böhm, he initiated Centre for Plausible Economies, a cluster devoted to reimagining economies of contemporary art and using artistic imagination to redraw the economy at large.
- A report on the Free/Slow University of Warsaw
- Pierre’s interview with François Matarasso on community art
- Pierre’s essay on the social artist’s absorption into the professional-managerial class
- Kuba’s work with Kathrin Böhm (Company Drinks/myvillages) on the Centre for Plausible Economies, which contributed to Documenta 15
- A New Books Network Interview with Dave O’Brien et al on Culture is Bad for You
- Pierre’s review of Sam Friedman’s and Daniel Laurison’s The Class Ceiling