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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  February 2007

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING February 2007

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Subject:

Re: value for money?

From:

Ryan Griffis <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ryan Griffis <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 31 Jan 2007 18:20:22 -0600

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On Jan 29, 2007, at 6:00 PM, NEW-MEDIA-CURATING automatic digest  
system wrote:

> Although I don't want to dampen the interesting theoretical threads  
> =20
> here unnecessarily, I do note that nobody has answered Sarah's =20
> initial question, "how much is what you do worth?"
>
> I'm not a curator, so I can't say. As a practitioner/educator I  
> would =20=
>
> say more than most middle managers in commercial companies, =20
> definitely more than a hairdresser, less than a CEO and about the =20
> same as a Creative Director in an ad agency. I can put a number to =20
> that if anyone would like.
>
> It's perhaps the lack of willingness to put out a clear price on  
> what =20=
>
> we/you do that makes it so easy for it so be so quickly de-valued  
> by =20
> others.

What makes the value of the hairdresser or the clerk or any other  
number of jobs so easy to devalue then? Is it because they don't  
attach a worth to their life, or because others so quickly do?
All of the above given examples of the economic spectrum offer no  
analyses of what those archetypal positions are WORTH... only what  
they can get. Not what they contribute to anything meaningful, but  
what the contribute to the dominant political economy - how they help  
those with privilege keep it.
i value Sean's statements on cultural value and class...
"What is a curator worth?", is an question IMHO. To ask the question  
without interrogating the problematics of art culture in the larger  
economy is pointless. Should curators be able to live off what they  
do is to take for granted the ideological imperative that what we do  
as "work" (i.e. profession) should play a role in the privileges we  
have in society. If you're OK with that, and believe in social  
darwinism and the free market, then the question makes perfect sense.  
If not, why continue to reproduce the equation?
But we have to "work" to "make a living"? How does creating larger  
landfills and stuff destined for landfills (much of it toxic) produce  
conditions necessary for life? The symbolic regime we exist in needs  
to be disentangled from how we value life and the life of others. We  
could be asking how the economic struggles of many cultural producers  
is related to, and can be joined with, other struggles against  
oppression. So to answer the question from my perspective, and taking  
a cue from Sean, a curator's worth can be determined by their efforts  
at working against current inequity and for something else. There's  
lots of disagreement on what that means sure, but again, one's  
professional work shouldn't be linked to the ability to survive, so  
"value" becomes political for me in these terms.
Anyone read Fromm's notes on a universal living wage? Only if we can  
disentangle being able to eat, have shelter and participate in civic  
discourse from our profession can we talk about what a curator is  
worth. Otherwise, someone's "worth" is proportional to their  
importance in upholding the system of inequitable privileges.
We have to be careful i think to not turn deCerteu's tactics into  
ones of complacency and distraction... thinking that because we can  
manage to survive despite oppression that we are somehow subverting it.
Sorry to get broad, naively idealistic and somewhat off topic... but  
the convergence of this discussion and the one simultaneously  
occurring on iDC is sparkly.
best,
ryan

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