“Only by drawing attention to concrete abuses can we underscore the precarious condition of cultural workers and the necessity for sustained protest against the appropriation of politically engaged art, culture and theory by institutions embedded in a tight mesh of capital and power.”

The precarious nature of working in the arts means that artists and particularly young artists are often vulnerable to abuse of labour rights. Young artists eager for experience often work for low or no wage. Arts Institutions and their corporate partners exploit this while at the same time benefiting from the public image that comes with cultural sponsorship. As artists have few or no vehicles for representation or collective bargaining most cases of abuse go unreported.

No doubt inspired in part by Wikileaks sets out to challenge the all too cozy relationship between cultural institutions and their corporate sponsors by encouraging and offering support to artists and cultural workers willing to to speak out.

Art-leaks is a collaborative project developed by an international group of artists, curators, art historians and intellectuals who have themselves first hand experience of exploitation, abuse and censorship. Some of the grievances which brought this group together are documented in
“Pavilion Unicredit 2010/2011 a collective Protest Letter”
The post reports on Pavilion UniCredit’s mistreatment of artists at their center in Bucharest, Romania.

“This center is devoted to contemporary art and culture and financed by one of the most prominent banks in Europe – UniCredit. Yet, we saw its mission to provide a space for critical thinking and dialogue compromised – through the management’s repressive maneuvers against those of us who problematized their politics and criticized their dubious engagement with their main sponsor.”

While currently the sites content primarily documents the experience of artists in eastern Europe and Russia. The truth is that this kind of abuse is common place all over the world. If we are to have genuinely open and honest debate in the cultural sphere, institutions too must be open and responsive to criticism.

Looking forward to future Art-leaks

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