Valuing Labor in the Arts
Response: Dear Christian
By Claudia La Rocco
On April 19, 2014, the Arts Research Center hosted Valuing Labor in the Arts: A Practicum. This daylong event included a series of artist-led workshops that developed exercises, prompts, or actions that engage questions of art, labor, and economics.
Claudia La Rocco participated in the “Yoga for Adjuncts: The Somatics of Human Capital” workshop at the Valuing Labor in the Arts practicum and was commissioned to write this response.
I’m writing from Governors Island, where I have a residency through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Spring is finally here, and it’s one of those dazzling, windy days. The water is terrifically choppy. And it seems important to say, given the topic(s) at hand, that I have this residency as a writer, full stop (or something). I am also the organization’s research fellow, thinking about issues of sustainability (isn’t everyone these days). A little while ago, LMCC’s Director of Cultural Programs, Melissa Levin—do you know her? She’s lovely—told me that she has to fight for us.
I think of physical space as being equivalent to mental space—when people ask me why a writer or a photographer needs a dedicated space … well, they think, research, edit, and create dialogue. They also need space for making.
I can see the water from where I sit, the orange ferry going by, Wall Street as our mythologized lap of labor. I just ate a tuna sandwich. I am listening to Fiona Apple’s “Werewolf” on repeat, through headphones.
When I told people about your workshop “Yoga for Adjuncts: The Somatics of Human Capital,” I kept saying it was marvelously sinister. This is perhaps best encapsulated by your final question to us, even as you asked us to breathe, to accept the ground beneath us: “Do you have a contract for this coming fall?”
Come on. What adjunct worth her salt has a contract?? That’s not how the system works—to the extent that it works.