CULTURE AND PRECARIOUSNESS

It seems that the cultural sector is reluctant to abandon its almost endemic precariousness. Since the crisis made its appearance a decade ago, the blows are still there, though they adopt, it’s true, different forms and produce consequences of very different nature. In turn, culture, as such, is still a sector of economic content, subject to the same avatars as the other areas of activity, and a sphere in which the same patterns of inequality and imbalance perceived in other business fields repeated.

The professionalisation of culture has led to a high degree of specialisation of the profiles, giving light to new lines of activity that a few years ago were completely unknown. In parallel, consumption habits, the way of approaching art and the place that exhibition spaces had traditionally occupied have had to adapt to a change in circumstances. This evolution is motivated not only by the prevailing economic situation, right after the new millennium started, but also by the beginning of a period of transition in which a generational change comes together with a deep social identity crisis. This gap in the sense of belonging and the path towards a dehumanising individualism poses numerous challenges, and more so in an area such as culture, whose reason for being rests with the individual and his development in society. Many of these turning points usually coincide with significant world milestones, such as, without a doubt, the beginning of a new century, a situation that in our case came along with a technological revolution that opens up new ways of exploration but also contributes to deepening the uncertainty of our immediate context.

Campaign "no por amor al arte" launched by Plataforma PAC in 2018

All these changes don’t imply a strengthening of the profession or a revaluation of the work done. Although some slightly hopeful data emerge every year, a joint analysis shows that culture remains a very precarious sector that feeds on the passion of those who want to keep it alive. Paradoxically, there is an exploitation of our culture by tourism. The increasing volume of visitors that come to our country every year is a good indicator that, in addition to the excellent weather and the gastronomic variety, our cultural wealth plays a decisive role in. However, mechanisms to achieve a better distribution of these revenues or systems that serve to put culture in its place are not enhanced.

Other contradictions also coincide: the cultural sector is one of the most demanding in terms of required training and specialisation. 69.3% of cultural workers have higher education, compared to 42.9% of the national average (Yearbook of Cultural Statistics MCD 2018), a circumstance that is not accompanied by higher salary compensation. Likewise, there is a slight increase in employment generation (3.6% of the national total), although the number of single enterprises or self-employed is 64.7% and temporary contracts have increased by 19.4% since 2017. Thus, these data draw a sensitive, poorly resistant and depleted panorama to fight against setbacks.

Guided tour in Cádiz Museum

To make it worse, this sector replicates some of the imbalances seen in other economic areas: 60.9% of workers are men, and the remaining percentage are women. This could be an inner feature without major significance, as we know that in other sectors it happens in reverse; but the gap is noticed because there is a high percentage of artists who decide to establish themselves professionally abroad, where they get stability and better pay. A recent study carried out by Marta Pérez-Ibáñez and Isidro López-Aparicio on the situation of Spanish female artists (“Women artists and job insecurity in Spain. Analysis and comparison based on a global study”, Revista Arte, Individuo y Sociedad, vol. 31 (4), 2019) shows that 60% of them move abroad, of which 75% are under 40 years old. It also highlights the data collected on income, where 46.9% of the artists declare to obtain less than € 8,000 per year.

With all this, it is clear that the cultural sector has to face many future challenges, not only to overcome the difficulties inherent to its economic sensitivity, but also to many other circumstances that require a response more in line with the new times and the course of historical events. We will be here working to contribute to this (r)evolution.

 

Thirteen years have passed since its beginnings, and in all this time the Video Art Festival PROYECTOR has grown and consolidated its position as an essential event in this discipline. Since its inception, the initiative has tried to give visibility to a discipline that has always been relegated to the background in the usual exhibition circuits. Although video creation is not new, since it emerged by its own in the 60s of last century, the way to get to know it and enjoy it has not always been easy. On many occasions, the exhibitions only included a few isolated pieces within the main route, as if the video was the anecdotal contribution to the whole. However, our daily lives are invaded by moving images, and there is a paradox that video art, despite being a format of artistic expression very much in tune with the habits of today's society, remains a minority discipline

Frame from “Hel City”, by Gregorio Méndez Sáez, 2019

To some extent, PROYECTOR was born to reverse this situation, to value video as a creative format and to offer a wide, itinerant space to host a multitude of proposals, coming from inside and outside our borders. In this time, the growth of the festival has led it to travel the world, but also, to be a benchmark that each year arouses more interest. In the open call to receive proposals, they reach almost half a thousand, and a hundred works selected by the jury are a representative sample of different ways of understanding video creation, with pieces mainly from Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

In turn, PROYECTOR wants to be more than a video showcase and offers a large program with talks, workshops, masterclasses, meetings with artists, visits and concerts. A complete experience that always has the moving image as a backdrop.

El Instante Francisco Ruiz de Infante. El bosque que se mueve (errores de medida)

In this evolution, another circumstance stands out: video is a creative format that has its own codes, but it is also one of the disciplines most open to artistic hybridization and the widening of uses. The video may, therefore, be the genuine idea of an author who conceives an autonomous project to be carried out in this format, but it can also be the complementary result of an action or the documentary record of a previous performance being recorded to guarantee its survival. The versatility of the moving image and the potential that it has acquired in recent years allows us today to speak of numerous branches of art that focus on the fusion of languages and the integration of techniques and methodologies from other sectors, and in many of them, the video is still a cornerstone. So it is with technological art, interactive sound art, performance recording, the transformation from big data to image, artificial intelligence, and a long etcetera. Precisely for this reason, PROYECTOR offers a panoramic vision of this reality, with an extremely interesting program that plays with the variety and wealth of proposals.

Frame from “Herdança”, by Thiago Rocha Pitta, 2007

The 2020 edition will run from September 9th to 20th. As usual, the program displays in various venues throughout the city of Madrid, each of which will house a small section of the activities. This year the festival will count with the collaboration of the Casa Árabe, White Lab, Cruce, El Instante Fundación, ¡ésta es una PLAZA!, Extensión AVAM (Matadero Madrid), Institut Français de Madrid, Medialab Prado, Quinta del Sordo, Sala Alcalá 31, Sala El Águila, Secuencia de Inútiles and White Lab, in addition to the collaboration of the INELCOM Collection and the video art collection of Teresa Sapey.

The festival is also the ideal place to articulate the cultural fabric, since it involves numerous professionals in the sector, from curators to creators, from centres managers to critics and teachers. The 2020 program also has the collaboration of the FUSO Festival and the Museo Reina Sofía, which are providing some of their pieces for the exhibition.

In short, an appointment that lovers of contemporary art should not miss and that promises many novelties in this 13th edition.