Rap game James Franco. Art game Shawn Carter.
Jay-Z's performance at Pace Gallery last month shocked and depressed some critics
, but the event should come as no surprise. Neither should the enthusiastic participation of many prominent art world figures, from Marina Abramovic and Dana Schutz to George Condo and Andres Serrano. It's become cliché to talk about the art world as merely a luxury goods market. In a marketplace predicated upon conspicuous consumption, appearances matter immensely. I wonder what dancing with Hova has done for Lawrence Weiner's market performance.
Oh, what a feeling.
At the same time, artists and art history students study for four years (and incur the debt associated with higher education) in order to have the privilege to work 30 hours a week at a Pace Gallery offshoot in exchange for a travel stipend. On the other end of the spectrum, we have unpaid internships for artists like Abramovic that promise "exciting projects" upon completion. The tacit guarantee that accompanies these internship agreements is that there will be paid employment following the internship, either with the company that employed the intern or with a third party. Never mind the fact that this violates the Fair Labor Standards Act and perpetuates the economic stratification inherent in the contemporary art world.
Fuck it, I want a billion.
The obvious question at this point may be "what's stopping unpaid art interns from seeking redress?" In June, a Federal District Court judge in New York issued a ruling in favor of two unpaid interns that worked on the set of Black Swan
. Since then, suits have been filed against Atlantic Records, Gawker, and Condé Nast, among others. The answer to the question "why not art interns?" is obvious: success in the art world requires connections. Once a former intern burns a gallery or artist's studio, who would ever dream of hiring that person? This is just the way we do business.
Aw, fuck it, I want a trillion.