Art Field As Social Factory
Division of Labour, Forms of Capital and Systems of Exploitation in the Contemporary Cultural Production

  • Art Field As Social Factory
    figure Krzysztof Bielecki

The Free/Slow University of Warsaw will pose a fundamental question to participants and spectators: can we talk about exploitation with regard to the art field?

The Free/Slow University of Warsaw examines the art field as a social factory that is specifically responsible for the division of labour and systems distributing the built-up capital (money, social contacts, prestige). The Free/Slow University of Warsaw assumes that artistic work takes place within the corporate network, covering not only artists, but also managers, assistants and curators. Between and within these categories we are dealing with considerable inequalities evident to all. Nearly every observer or participant of the art field is aware that wealth and prestige of art stars stands in contrast to destitution of most artists or complete invisibility of multitudes of anonymous assistants.
The Free/Slow University of Warsaw shall not be limited to the diagnosis of inequalities though, but shall speculate about the reasons and structural mechanisms of reproduction of inequalities. Analysis of exploitation systems attempts to demonstrate that affluence and prestige of the few is achieved at the expense of poverty and anonymity of the many. In such situation a number of questions arise: who exploits whom, what form the exploitation takes on and why the exploited ones give their consent to it.

These are controversial issues, particularly in the art field, prevailed by the ideology of artistic talent, according to which the winners of symbolic competition and the losers are the sole architects of their own fate. Conference participants will express doubts regarding customary justifications of existing inequalities, posing a fundamental question about the moral economy of art. The conference will focus on the art field, however the University’s considerations apply a broader perspective, assuming that exploitation systems that are characteristic to the cultural production are also symptomatic for neoliberal capitalism.

The conference will be the first occasion to publicly present the initial results of empirical analysis “'Division of labour and distribution of social and economic capitals in the Polish contemporary art field' conducted by the team of Free/Slow University of Warsaw in 2013 and 2014. This comprehensive survey will be summarised by the report on the social and economic conditions for cultural production in Poland, which is going to be published by the end of 2014.


Convenors of the conference and directors of the research project: dr Michał Kozłowski, dr hab. Jan Sowa, Kuba Szreder
Administrative directors of the project: Szymon Żydek and Bogna Świątkowska 

Research team of the project: Krzysztof Bielecki (identyfikacja wizualna), Joanna Figiel, dr Mirosław Filiciak, Dorota Grobelna, dr Mikołaj Iwański, dr Anna Zawadzka 

Initiators of the project and conference organisers: Free/Slow University of Warsaw / Bęc Zmiana New Culture Foundation

Partners: Projekt:Polska Foundation Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, British Council in Warsaw, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Poland, Le Centre de civilisation française et d'études francophones de l'Université de Varsovie The research has been executed in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage under the Culture Observatory programme

Conference of Free/Slow University of Warsaw (F/SUW)
'Art Field as Social Factory. Division of labour, forms of capital and systems of exploitation in the contemporary cultural production'

See also:

Other archival events from that cycle:

DzieńGodzinaNazwa wydarzeniaMiejsce wydarzenia
16:00 Guided tour Curatorial Guided Tour Through the „Nightlife Archives” Exhibition Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Emilia Pavilion
ul. Emilii Plater 51, Warsaw
13:00 Workshops Artistic CreationsWorkshop for families Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Emilia Pavilion
ul. Emilii Plater 51, Warsaw
13:00 Workshops Don’t break it! Ceramics painting workshop for families Cafe Wilson
ul. Alojzego Felińskiego 37, Warsaw
15:00 Guided tour Curatorial Guided TourAt the „Henryk Stażewski. Always There” and „Art, Incidentally” Exhibitions Jan Styczyński's former atelier
ul. Krasińskiego 10, Warsaw
17:00 Guided tour Curatorial Guided TourThrough the „Your city is a battleground” Exhibition Bracia Jabłkowscy Department Store
ul. Bracka 25, 3 i 6 piętro, Warsaw
17:00 Guided tour Curatorial Guided TourThrough the „Self-organisation” Exhibition Workshops at Inżynierska Street
ul. Inżynierska 3, Warsaw
18:00 Spectacle The Battle of Warsaw 2014A performatic reading Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Emilia Pavilion
ul. Emilii Plater 51, Warsaw