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Posted by on July 12, 2012

Art History With Labor: Working in the Arts Sucks

Art History With Labor: Working in the Arts Sucks
Photo: The Bruce High Quality Foundation

Written by Leighann Morris on July 10, 2012 for Art Fag City

The Bruces are at it again. This year they launched their second Brucennial and flew to Art Basel Miami to tell collectors why the institutional system is fucked. That wasn’t exactly a packed room, so now they’ve produced a video to spread the word. Art History with Labor, now on view at the Lever House and online takes “FUCK THE MAN!” to a whole new level.

The video draws on Luther’s 95 theses, which were written in 1577 to protest against the sale of indulgences in the Catholic Church. By nailing them onto the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, Luther exposed the greed and corruption of the men of his time. Art History with Labor serves the same purpose. With an abundance of references to popular culture, including youtube clips of Jerry Springer, excerpts from Fight Club, and quotes from Adorno, the video works satirically to reveal consumption and capitalist hierarchy as the cardinal sin of modern America in 95 separate points.

With the Occupy movement grabbing so many headlines, Art with Labor seems sure to grab a few eyeballs.  It comes at a time when the relationship between art and labor is more fraught than ever; when Sotheby’s has locked 43 members of its unionized art handlers out of work, when internships demand full time hours for no wage, and when 58% of artists in New York City do not get paid for exhibiting at non-profit institutions.

If you’ve got even a few minutes, put this video on; like much of the work produced by the Bruce High Quality Foundation, it’s hilarious and sharp witted. The Bruces ask us: how can art and labor exist fairly in an era of institutional tyranny, cultural emptiness, and economic corruption? Or put another way [Thesis point #57], how can art exist in an era of Kelis informing you that her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard?