Conference on Law and Labor – Brussels 9–11 November
Steyn Bergs and Ronny Heiremans will present CAVEAT!!! on 9 November
between 13.45 and 14.15h at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
CAVEAT!!! is an artistic research project convened by the Brussels-based artists’ initiative JUBILEE. The project examines, from the perspective of the contract, labour relations in the fields of art and culture. Its title alludes to the caveat emptor-principle, but stands as a warning against “unfair practices” in general—a highly necessary warning indeed, as artists and cultural producers often find themselves on the frontline of the neoliberal flexibilization and deregulation of work; in practice, they often lack the protection supposedly offered by legal and juridical frameworks such as labour rights. Within such a context, CAVEAT!!! proposes an employment of the contract by artists and cultural producers as a tool for actively reconfiguring labour relations, as an instrument toward self-emancipation. However, the ambition is not merely to make these artist and cultural producers in to ‘better,’ savvier entrepreneurial subjects, but also to foster a sense of collective identity, or class consciousness, so as to raise awareness with regards to their increasingly marginal and precarious conditions.
Concretely, CAVEAT!!! consists of workshops, events, lectures, screenings, and debates in which the contract and its importance for the artistic and cultural field are highlighted. Also, newly produced artistic projects are commissioned as artistic research forms an intrinsic part of the project, and informs the discussions that take place within its framework. Combining the expertise of lawyers, artists, theorists, legal thinkers, and art historians, these discussions revolve around historical case studies of artistic engagements with the contract and its emancipatory potential, as well as around the present-day urgency of such engagements, prompted by neoliberal conditions.
For the Metamorphosis of Labour symposium, the CAVEAT!!! core research team proposes to present an introductory outline of the project. As such, this contribution will involve a slight deviation from the standard format of academic paper presentations, but will hopefully also offer an insight into how the symposium’s topic—questions revolving around labour and identity—are (and have been) researched and dealt with not only in other disciplinary academic fields, but also in the field of artistic practice. As such, CAVEAT!!! hopes to instigate a truly interdisciplinary dialogue on these pertinent questions.
CAVEAT!!! is supported by Innoviris