Mondays | 7pm | NYC
Email us for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you in Debt?
Decentralized, on- and off-line, crossing institutional hierarchies in both public and private spaces, artists contextualize their work within the narratives of their actual economic lives. Collectors receive artwork in exchange for checks directly to the artist’s loaning banks.
In DebtFair, Art = Liberation
This August, we’ll stage a meetup where artists interview each other about their debt. This information will go on our website alongside responses to our call for new statistics about the debt crisis in the arts, creating an intellectual context rooted in economic reality rather than luxury escapism.
In September, DebtFair will hit the streets of New York City. The fair is decentralized, mapped as a layer onto the city and connected through unique booths, maps, and performances. Artists themselves will design the innovative booths to cross the lines of institutional hierarchies as well as public and private spaces. Audiences and collectors will find booths within art galleries, non-profit spaces, sidewalks, bank lobbies, private homes, bodegas, and studios. The artists will be present at the fair to discuss their work and their economic lives. When a collector wants to support an artist’s work through real interaction, they write a check directly to the loaning bank in exchange for art. We encourage offerings of work at many levels from small Kickstarter gift-like amounts to help spread the love, to pieces that trade for complete debt bailouts.
Overall student debt has tripled since 2004, while defaults have soared 36% in the last year alone. And so, as the top of the art market booms, a generation of artists and art workers — the “roots” of the cultural ecosystem — is sinking deep into debt. Many begin their professional art journeys walking out of higher education owing six figures they are not likely to repay with precarious jobs and internships.
Many players are involved. Universities continue to advertise increasingly expensive MFAs and banks freely offer government-backed loans which artists willingly accept, sold on illusionistic free-market ambitions. Meanwhile, wealthy collectors collude with 1% galleries and auction houses to skim the cream off of this debtors system, turning a cold shoulder to the harsh economic reality of the 99%. We are experiencing a big bubble here: the art world has become one giant debt fair, and the 1% of the 1% are its only beneficiaries.
We can support artists and institutions who contribute to public culture rather than “Friezing” art into assets where the very few benefit at the expense of the many. It’s time to model a sustainable cultural bailout. Mutual aid is the exchange rate of a sustainable future.