«Artists as Vulnerable Workers IDALINA CONDE CIES e-Working Papers (ISSN 1647-0893) Av. das Forças Armadas, Edifício ISCTE, 1649-026 LISBOA, ...»
However, at this point it is important to remark that such indicators, apparently only for a debilitating vulnerability, may have different meanings within the picture of “plural artists” (Bureau, Perrenoud & Shapiro, 2009), depending on their generational profiles, artistic specificities, career phases, institutional environments and labour markets. Indeed, what, for some of them, is a sign of precariousness and even impoverishment may represent, for other “nomadic” artists, an enrichment of personal projects, a desired eclecticism and an alternative kind of entrepreneurship and empowerment. This happens in institutionally well established cases, e.g. orchestra musicians with parallel professional commitments: their own chamber music groups, for As Ritva Michell (2003: 186) remarks, the institutional environment of the (new) media artists includes “traditional art markets (Sector 1: sales to museums and other collections); markets opened through new audiovisual ‘windows’ (Sector 2: sales to consumers, as videos, through the Internet or as new developments in the use of cell phones, etc.) and R&D markets (Sector 3: sales of innovative media solutions, components and product designs).” Rannou & Roarik (2009: 112) analyzed the complexity of employment relationships in “dance intermittency” with four notions – plurality, recurrency, dominance and dependency.
example, and a presence in concert halls or festivals as soloists.15 This opportunity is not available to the majority within the orchestra, with its restricted definition of roles, collective rules and very limited mobility for individuals. Table 8 gives a portrait of these kind of pyramidal institutions again crossed by some gender asymmetries.
Finally, this example reminds us of various kinds of insertions and powers that can operate in artistic trajectories. From pyramidal hierarchies in traditional institutions (such as orchestras and ballet companies) to alternative formats such as platforms, networks and project teams designed with “softened”, “diffuse”, horizontal or nodular lines of authority and influence. Regularly appearing in audiovisual production, contemporary art, dance, renewed theatrical structures, design, electronic music, curatorship of multidisciplinary activities and event organization (festivals, gatherings, experimental laboratories, etc.), they represent a more reticular and interstitial way See Ravet (2009) on this multi-activity as a “space of construction of a musician's identity”, namely among women in the French context, analogous to the situation revealed by our research in Portugal.
This exception was due to two Polish women in the position of first violin.
(even subversive in certain cases) to cross institutions – traditional pillars in the cultural field – with one's own projects and co-productions. To sum up, they have become both a location and a mediating element for work and legitimation, diversifying their poles, references and decision/opinion makers. Another piece in the chess game of old and renewed symbolic powers.
4. Final remarks: vulnerability, uncertainty and individuality
Thus, different kinds of power and organizational anchors integrate the various lines to take account of artistic vulnerability. A powerful concept itself if considered multidimensionally, as attempted in this paper, with a kind of rotation around a quadrilateral: profession and identity crossed by recognition and inequality – gender inequality in particular. A perspective supported here by European and Portuguese data, with illustrations from traditional to emerging art forms, working conditions and contexts.
Not to repeat general findings and arguments, I prefer to conclude with a few words about vulnerability among artists as creators – individual authors, participants as interpreters in collective art forms and the performing arts, or contributors to other forms of “shared production” and “remixed creativity” (Hartley, 2005). For instance, in new/multimedia projects, usually group-based, with alternative ways of producing and disseminating music (as an example) that are even challenging the legal framework for copyright and the control of oligopolies in major cultural industries. (ERICarts, 2005).
In all cases, my purpose is to pay attention to two crucial aspects of creative agency and its vulnerabilities. One of them is the uncertainty involved in this process of construction, reconfiguration, discovery, imagination and reflexivity that depends on tools (from intellectual references to technologies) but is essentially made up of thought, fiction and emotion, even in less “self-expressive” art forms in terms of figurative representation, allegories or metaphors. Uncertainty is, then, a co-constituent of creativity and innovation and, in cultural industries, for example, is protected as a kind of “inherent paradox” within rationalized organizations, continuously searching for the next novelty inspired by that “fuel” always contingent. (Caves, 2000; Hesmondhalgh, 2002; Hartley, 2005).
The second note relates authorship to individuality within but also besides the common grounds that it has in the arts. In other words, the condition of individuals who are becoming, or expected to become, individualities by a distinguished (co)signature.
This is another way of underlining the personal nature of artistic professions and identities, particularly necessary to understand relationships, as well as tensions, between individuals and institutions (Watson, 1996) that are shared with other contexts for authorship. As I wrote in an essay comparing the worlds of art and science (Conde, 2000), part of their common portrait was precisely the ambivalent experience for individuals of being not only actors in collective systems but also authors by personal commitment and achievement.
Art may intensify the (inter)subjective “drama” by the requisites of the creative work, and also the pull towards ontological and teleological self-narratives. For example, the inner vocation (“born to write”) and proclaimed literary destinies that Debora Ben-Shir (2008) found in the “identity-stories” of poets and writers. Otherwise acclaimed, even persuaded or induced by the “mediatic” modes of presenting “writers' lives”, as Leonor Arfuch (2002) pointed in her analysis of the public exposure and interviews in media with literary authors.
Nevertheless, a comprehensive regard over this persistance, despite all modern and postmodern deconstructions of the myth of the artist (even of the individual as a “unique”, coherent and integrated being) may equally understand the profound meaning that those narratives can have for persons so exposed and 'in demand' as artists. In addition, through ideological dimensions and stereotypes, the narratives can give a sense to the “gift and gift of oneself” (Sapiro, 2007), i.e. the artistic talent and his endowment. A manner to those narratives act, too, as response (or rationalization) from vulnerable persons to their “ontological insecurity”, recalling now an expression quoted from Anthony Giddens at the beginning of this paper.
In corresponding fashion, we understand the central dialectics between that “gift” and the “debt” endorsed to the recognition of peers, the market and society.17 In other words, the reason why artists are so sensitive to recognition (and inequality), whose importance must not only be explained by instrumental or material rewards; and why they live so much in this expectation, and the huge effects it has on their lives, be it As Nathalie Heinich (1991) showed paradigmatically in her book on the legacy of Van Gogh and the spiral of overunderstanding after incomprehension.
negative or positive recognition.18 In fact, in this profession recognition and identity are the necessary accomplishment of self-reference that remains a crucial reference point for authorship and derivative forms of creativity. Vulnerability in this matter is the “price” artists pay for being not only “social selves” (Burkitt, 1991) but also presenting an accentuated or hyperbolical difference as “creative selves” (Cohen, 1994).
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