在「錄像宣言2」的其中一次藝術家工作坊裡，Cecilia Hua 和 Susan Lin 分享了一篇感動過他們的文章，是RAQS Media Collective 的 Monica Narula 於 2012年寫的「如何做夜更的藝術家：藝術學院 [給21世紀的提案]」。之後我電郵了Narula，希望她准許我們在「據點一杯茶」轉載。等候了兩個星期未有回音，我想不如就用讀書報告的形式，以部分引述和中文翻譯去快點分享給更多的藝術創作者。（全文可以在此下載）
In one of the four artists’ workshops for the video Manifesto (2) project, US-based filmmakers Cecilia Hua and Susan Lin shared an article by RAQS Media Collective’s Monica Narula, titled “How to be an artist by night. Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century)” written in 2012. I emailed Narula right after the workshop to see if she would allow me to publish her piece on Floating Teatime. Not sure if I’ve got the right channel, two weeks passed and I thought it would also work if I present her piece as a reading report with a series of selected quotes with my Chinese translation. Just thought the sentiments of the essay should be shared and the Manifesto 2 project is a good context.
The full essay was accessed here: https://www.academia.edu/4172889/How_to_be_an_artist_by_night
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// The professional sphere of contemporary art subsists within a larger economy of the production of material and immaterial cultural goods. … It is not a matter of dispute that a large number of people who train in art academies finally end up as wage-workers (on regular or precarious employment) within this burgeoning industry. When art students graduate from their academies, they usually end up as ‘no collar’ workers in the industry by day, and artists, by night, in their dreams.
當代藝術的專業圈受著「圈」住它的經濟環境所支配 – 也就是物質與非物質的文化產品的生產經濟。… 大量受過藝術學院訓練的人，在正蓬勃發展的文化藝術工業中淪為拿工資而可能朝不保夕的勞工。主修藝術的學生畢業了，白天大多變成「無領」階級，晚上，或發夢時，就做藝術家。
// Contemporary art can also be a refuge from culture industry, but … the young artist, who often begins professional life as an intern in the corporate setting of the culture industry, usually finds himself or herself in a simultaneous condition of internment within contemporary art.
// “innovate or perish” … … What is lost is the capacity to reflect, to take time, to be critical of the world and one’s own practice. The no collar worker by day is at war with the artist by night. …
「創新，不就滅亡。」… … 過程中失去的是反省、花時間、對世界和自己的實踐作出批判的能量。白天的「無領」工人與夜間的藝術家總是對著幹。
// …this double life can be traumatic. The fear of irrelevance, obsolescence and marginality haunts many younger practitioners, and the pressure to exhibit as an artist is almost as lethal as the pressure to innovate as a cultural worker or entrepreneur.
// Coupled with this is the fact that the dissolution of a stable canon in the wake of the rapid global dispersal of contemporary art practice brings a certain disorientation to bear on the lives of most practitioners.
// The question of what then constitutes an education that can adequately prepare a practitioner for a vocation in the contemporary arts is primarily a matter of identifying the means to cultivate an attitude of negotiation with and around this kind of pressure.
// Artists undertake to transform themselves continuously through their practices, and throughout their working lives. For an artist, there can be no rigid separation between being someone and learning to become someone else.
// …in order to continue working, the artist learns to constantly prepare for the unknown, for what remains to be done. An artist’s education is never finished. School is never out.
// The paradox of an artist’s life consists in the fact that in order to prepare himself/herself for production, the artist must engage with time in a non-instrumental way, and that this engagement can at all times represent a fundamental distraction from production.
// There are two possible ways out of this conundrum. One is to loop preparation and production, leisure and work, in a pattern of successive and alternating phases. The other, … making is thinking, learning is what occurs at the instance of activity. Praxis is theory.
要逃脫這迷宮有兩個可能的途徑。一個是把準備生產與生產、閒暇與工作變為對流而循環不息的整體，一接一，相互交替。另一個是 … 創作就是思考，而學習發生於活動的其中，也就是說實踐就是理論。
// The world is made as the things in it are named. Sometimes naming presumes knowledge, sometimes the name is a sign that we do not yet know what we name. … … The creation of the world …[is] a tacit admission that we do not know and will never know. …
// In this sense, an education for art is a school (a time set aside) for the production of desires, a space for the continuous generation of interpretative acts that also successfully constitute the world.
The artist, by night, in dreams, recovers what the no-collar worker lost by day.
Monica Narula’s piece offers us a succinct portrait of young artist-graduates as they join the work force. The alternating state of the preparation-production and leisure-work loops in successive patterning is heart-warming and optimistic, and somehow the same kind of logic I have relied on to survive. Yet are artistic convictions alone sufficient to address the question of labour among young artists? Artistic labour issues are never just those within a designate ecology of art. To better state the problem, the so-called inside and outside of the sphere of art is artificial and describes operational realities. The ecological factors of the sphere of art are dynamic and responsive to the ever-changing societal conditions. The problem of cheap labor, or the question of alienation, for example, is not unique to the domain of art. The scheme of things in Narula’s general sketch has a place for globalization, global corporatization, the impact of marketization and entrepreneurialism on art’s stake-holders. Perhaps before embracing education, by innovating art school models, as the impetus for change, one must also consider the institution of education as the apparatus of ideological functioning. All. this not only requires more detailed studies, but also conceptual models that allow us to see all the elements on the same plane for the connective dynamics underlying. This model may want to look at, for example, how personal desires and articulation of individual talents are far from being excluded in the machinery of entrepreneurship. As well, what are the justification to honour aesthetical values and standardize artistic excellence? It’s time we stepped out of the binary oppositional pairs such as institution/mechanism Vs personal ideals, aesthetics Vs function and so on. I think the conversation that Narula set out in 2012 requires sustained debates.
Monica Narula的文字道出了很多年輕人的處境。她形容的那個「把準備生產與生產、閒暇與工作變為對流而循環不息的整體」的想法，健康而積極，也是我所用以生存的邏輯思維吧。但總覺藝術勞動勞工的問題不能單用藝術信念去化解。前者牽涉的不單是藝術生態內部的環境。所謂「藝術圈」的內與外是操作上分野，或許說，藝術生態的內部是由所謂「外面」所不斷定義和調教的。藝術勞動力的問題，與由全球化、企業化、藝術市場化、藝術教育的建制故步自封、意識形態上要求藝術專業化等掛鉤，需要更多的研究和剖析。Narula 也指出了重要的幾塊，如必須由（免費、廉價）實習過渡到（廉價的）就業 – 這個絕對是一般現象，不單是藝術圈內的。我贊成在這個全球、國際化、企業專業化的討論中，必須留出空間予個人情操、慾望，以至超越性的理念，問題是怎樣放進去，能否破除「建制／機制」對「個人理想」、「美學」對「功能」的二元對立。這裡，我只想強調Narula提出的問題必須討論下去。
At this point, I recall an event titled “Art Production in Restriction — Possibilities of Transformative Art Production and Coalition-Building,” the Trondheim Seminar in Norway in 2015. The series, which split participants local and regional into six working groups, explored the theoretical issues of artist labour, the precarity of conditions, and ways for better working condition. Taking place in Europe, Neo-liberalism was the point of departure, examined for how it destroyed public art institutions and education. Other issues include how the problems of labour in art distinguish themselves from other domain, and if formation of a coalition would help and how. Hopefully, their objective — the quest for transformative art production — could be examined further in more writings in Floating Projects. The most immediate question, however, is: where do we start? Neo-liberal values? Benevolent models since our colonial days? A charitable/welfare model on which most art activities rest in the past 20 years? The extension of real estate ownership to art and culture? Tourism? Gentrification resulting from urban renewal projects? Or…?
忽然想起一個在2015年在挪威舉行，叫 Trondheim Seminar 的研討活動， 以 「受制的藝術生產：轉化的藝術生產與建立同盟的可能性」（“Art Production in Restriction – Possibilities of Transformative Art Production and Coalition-Building”）為題，探討有關藝術勞動、不穩定情勢的立論，試圖以地區性和跨區域的經驗的交流，尋出較好的工作條件。這個以西方為本位的聚會固然以新自由主義的批判作開端，探討其對公共藝術建制的迫害，也刻意勾勒藝術勞工與別的勞工的分別，不論是在公營機構工作的，還是獨立藝術機構的。設立新的藝術生產模式可能嗎？這又與藝術聯盟的建立有關嗎？藝術生產的自主與社運層面的反資本定律的追求有何關係？建議讀者參考他們六個工作小組的討論報告，看他們對「轉化」有甚麼看法，希望日後可以在「據點一杯茶」作點延伸討論。可是香港呢？我們的起步點該是甚麼？新自由主義適切嗎？殖民時代延伸下來的仁厚善心道德基礎（如香港悠長的教會辦學的歷史）？1995年以來藝發局誕生後香港整體藝術生態轉趨慈善福利資助模式？地產霸權的向軟性文化的延伸？旅遊業的發展？市區重建的士紳化的過程？還是…？
*Raqs Media Collective, New Delhi-based since 1992, was founded to be the crossroad of art, documentary, filmmaking, new media and critical theory, represented by its three core artists – Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. “Raqs” means dance, body trance, or “rarely asked questions.” To the collective, theoretical explorations are as important as metaphorical and aesthetic discourses.
**Rena Raedle & Vladan Jeremic: “Contradictions and Transformative Trajectory of Art and Labor: conclusions of the Trondheim Seminar”
This covers reports from the 6 working groups with references to useful readings.
Feature image by Linda Lai