SAIC 2016 Entry #1

“…the celebration of individual resourcefulness, of the capacity to create a “life of one’s own,” was received as desirable by a variety of creative laborers. Flexibility seemed, after all, to be the key to social agency. The just-in -time ethos now structures a variety of social fields, including government and employment organizations that used to be responsible for suppling “just-in-case” systems. Laborers are now “free” to juggle many jobs, to construct nimbler lives, and to avoid situations that offer the dubious protections of regulation, social welfare, or employment security.”

Like many of us, I closely relate to this statement. I have so far successfully created a “life of one’s own” for myself and my family. However, I feel as if I’m only one crisis (unexpected health issue, accident, job loss, etc.) away from not being able to fully support my family. Flexibility is why I am able to pursue grad school and why I am able to be so involved in my kids’ lives. It is also why I’m in a great deal of debt and why we live pay check to pay check.

I’m curious about people’s experience with Obamacare. It seems that Obamacare supports “flexible” laborers and has provided much needed relief for those who are not provided health care by an employer or can not pay out of pocket. Many working artist are finding affordable, quality health care, in some cases for the first time.

Managing a career in the tumultuous field of art and art education where funding is limited and competition is high, where one must have many jobs with little to know benefits or security requires much attention to emotion management. Jackson references emotion management, when employees are encouraged to repress discord in order to maintain a pervasive sense of hospitality without giving attention to the distress inflicted upon the employee. Although I love what I do, there is almost always red tape (often in the form of balancing funders’ wants and requirements with the actual needs of the communities being served). In this scenario the artist/educator is the employee and the funder is the client. The artist/educator has to put on a show for the funder insuring that their often meaningless outcomes are being met or risk loosing funding, but at the expense of their personal distress.

While viewing Harun Farocki, A New Product (2012), I was both intrigued and uncomfortable with the discussion of hierarchy, how success rates should be determined, and how those who excel should be compensated. One designer proposed that an employees success rate should also take into account their personal success. He suggested that employees should set personal goals just as they’d set professional goals. If those goals are met at the end of the term they were successful. If not, they were unsuccessful. He suggested that compensation for an employee’s efforts did not have to be monetary. In place of a bonus or salary increase maybe they’d receive additional time off, daycare, our outings paid for by the company. Is this a sincere progressive effort to incentivize workers and reward their dedication? Or is it manipulative- avoiding salary increases/ monetary incentives in order to cut corners?

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