Thursday, June 26, 2008

Museum Slave Labor

I am convinced that museums despite all their public displays of concern for the history and cultures of a people, really care little for the people who work for them. Museum organizers and directors spend all their time pandering to very rich people at upscale cocktail parties raising money for their next showcase, but pay a pittance to people who work and offer their services to enhance the museum's public image. For example, I created this video with a friend of mine for the Tacoma Art Museum to get its great work with South American artists out in the community. The transportation costs to/from/to/from the museum were about $4; a set of five mini-DV tapes costs $24.99; the filming took three and half hours of patience and creativity; the editing took four hours of patience and creativity; and in less than a week we gave the museum a high-quality version and a YouTube-quality version of their video. Not to mention the fixed capital costs of operating an editing studio. For all this the museum paid me $25. How is this possible?

Easy, museums operate by draining surplus value from volunteers and interns to pay for their appeasements at expensive parties.

Why should I accept such a low commission, as if I am myself some kind of "degenerate" artist, entartete Künstler? Well, I considered it pro bono work at the time. Can I be a pro bono artist? I normally make $14 an hour doing my technology consulting gig. Last month the museum told me they were interested in a longer documentary about the "history of art in Tacoma", yet nobody is willing to pay up. Perhaps I shouldn't be concerned about making money from my own art, which is an imitation of art, which in turn is an imitation of reality. To make things worse, the artists are supposedly lying about everything, as Plato said. I don't believe that; I think the artists are telling the truth. It's the museum curators who lie!

Museums are just a lot of lies, and the people who make art their business are mostly imposters.

~ Pablo Picasso.

1 comment:

Muser said...

The bums! They should have paid you fairly. Museums are among my least favorite non-profits, and the world of visual art has always been hopeless. If you want to do a very short Elvis/Emily video based on my poem, I can assure you the funding will be much more in line with your skills and artistry. Maybe a 1-2 minute video, something I can post on Youtube for the three or four cross-over Elvis/Emily fans out there.