How can artists organize against the increasing inequality amplified by the pandemic conditions globally? Art for Universal Basic Income – a campaign initiated by artists – is converging energies with movements across the world challenging the market’s current modes of exploitation.
While the art market confirms his status as a safe-haven assets provider for the financial elite, the current pandemic has highlighted the fragility and precarity of art workers around the world, a condition common to a growing portion of humanity. In this situation a UBI (Universal Basic Income) would then represent a solution and indeed an urgent measure to implement. But UBI is not “only” a response to poverty, it is a necessary condition in order to rethink our extractivist ecological model, to correct many race and gender asymmetries and, last but not least, to change the art world’s present neoliberal structure. UBI must be seen as a tool to open up new subjective spaces, alternative to the dominating entrepreneurial individualism and focused instead on commons and care.
If artists are already creating new collective economy models and alter-institutions, these small scale experiments will be much more valuable when connected with those growing social movements around the world fighting for a Universal Basic Income.
The Institute of Radical Imagination (IRI) is a think-tank consisting of curators, artists, and scholars, whose aim is to develop various forms of research intervention for the transition into post-capitalism. Together we want to explore and develop new practices and knowledge that contribute to the formation of new forms of life and its meanings as the practices of struggle for the commons. IRI is located at the threshold between Europe and the Mediterranean.
The School of Mutation is IRI's pedagogical outlet, focused on the need to learn anew and re-make the world of culture in the unfolding of the biopolitical emergency brought on by Covid-19. Art For UBI is a campaign initiated in the framework of the School of Mutation.
ART FOR UBI (Manifesto)
1/ Universal and Unconditional Basic Income is the best measure for the arts and cultural sector. Art workers claim a basic income, not for themselves, but for everyone.
2/ Do not call UBI any measures that do not equal a living wage: UBI has to be above the poverty threshold. To eliminate poverty, UBI must correspond to a region’s minimum wage.
3/ UBI frees up time, liberating us from the blackmail of precarious labor and from exploitative working conditions.
4/ UBI is given unconditionally and without caveats, regardless of social status, job performance, or ability. It goes against the meritocratic falsehoods that cover for class privilege.
5/ UBI is not a social safety net, nor is it welfare unemployment reform. It is the minimal recognition of the invisible labor that is essential to the reproduction of life, largely unacknowledged but essential, as society’s growing need for care proves.
6/ UBI states that waged labor is no longer the sole means for wealth redistribution. Time and time again, this model proves unsustainable.Wage is just another name for exploitation of workers, who always earn less than they give.
7/ Trans-feminist and decolonizing perspectives teach us to say NO to all the invisible and extractive modes of exploitation, especially within the precarious working conditions created by the art market.
8/ UBI affirms the right to intermittence, privacy and autonomy, the right to stay off-line and not to be available 24/7.
9/ UBI rejects the pyramid scheme of grants and of the nonprofit industrial complex, redistributing wealth equally and without unnecessary bureaucratic burdens. Bureaucracy is the vampire of art workers’ energies and time turning them into managers of themselves.
10/ By demanding UBI, art workers do not defend a guild or a category and depreciate the role that class and privilege play in current perceptions of art. UBI is universal because it is for everyone and makes creative agency available to everyone.
11/ Art’s health is directly connected to a healthy social fabric. To claim for UBI, being grounded in the ethics of mutual care, is art workers’ most powerful gesture of care towards society.
12/ Because UBI disrupts the logic of overproduction, it frees us from the current modes of capital production that are exploiting the planet. UBI is a cosmogenetic technique and a means to achieve climate justice.
13/ Where to find the money for the UBI? In and of itself UBI questions the actual tax systems in Europe and elsewhere. UBI empowers us to reimagine financial transactions, the extractivism of digital platforms, liquidity, and debt. No public service should be cut in order to finance UBI.
14/ UBI inspires many art collectives and communities to test various tools for more equal redistribution of resources and wealth. From self-managed mutual aid systems based on collettivising incomes, to solutions temporarily freeing cognitive workers from public and private constraints. We aim to join them.
Art for UBI