Future is Feudal? (2021) Kaino Wennerstrand. An expose of creative precariat life in Finland and a strong call to get organized! Their analysis of the academisation of arts feels accurate. By plotting events which lead to the academization of the engineering profession, we can identify that the elitism which universities advocate is fuelled by a “pursuit of a higher class status”. Many are into arts and academia to escape the burdens of their class. Following this, I agree that artists don’t categorically benefit from higher education. I think academic conventions can even be disturbance if the practitioner does not have broader academic interests (meaning that they want to be employed by universities teaching something else then art). Art offers more radical modes of thought and organization then academic practices. Hence, it is more equipped for leading change and yet… Almost all my leftists traits stem from art education in universities. #☭
The Finnish art scene at large has betrayed its working-class sympathies, to which they keenly pay lip service, and opted for upward mobility instead of class solidarity. The academisation of art that has taken art education and discourse by storm during the last twenty years has been a death blow to artists’ working class sympathies.
Although not the point of the text, I’m digging the portrayal of audio (or any performance related) technicians as service providers, who are tasked to elevate the habitus of their clients and to maintain the flow of events. Technicians preserve status quo. I’m reminded of all the times I’ve operated a mixer at events: Ultimately as a technician I’m responsible for a master fader. I serve as a media-police-officer, a security element which adds to the professionalism of the occation. Technicians make spaces safe. The power of the technician was also addressed in a recent performance by Timo Viialainen. For me a key element of the In the What did you do as a child when the thunder cut the power? (2021) performance, was a gradual process of cutting the main power of the performance venue.
A designer sells proof. The client doesn’t have to worry whether their publication looks amateurish, since a graphic designer has selected the font, or if their launch event’s atmosphere is dodgy, because a sound designer has curated the playlist. Another thing we trade in is client safety. Being protected from being deemed uncool or unprofessional also includes a kind of class guarantee.
Most of the artists I know and have worked with in Finland arrive from lower working class backgrounds and have survived (or are surviving) poverty. I share Wennerstrands optimisms and belief that trade unions are our best assets for developing egalitarian societies. I strongly believe that trade-unions have the responsibility for reaching out and aligning to the needs of the precariat labourforce. Like Wennerstrand I’ve only paid union fees and due to short term contracts, I’ve never received any direct benefits from my involvement. My membership in the Trade Union for Theatre and Media Finland, Teme is a performance of onside solidarity. I know and respect the work unions do in advocacy and policy making but their concerns feel remote.