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Emerging Artist T-Shirt

DAY, Michael (2023) Emerging Artist T-Shirt. [Artefact]

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Announce yourself as emerging and positively inclined to schmoozing with this fantastic ‘Emerging Artist’ T-shirt. Why pretend you’ve made it when you could embrace and celebrate being the vulnerable prey of the visual arts food chain? Both as a label and a lifestyle, ’emerging artist’ suits any age group and all levels of talent and ability. Join the gang, get your hustle on, and let’s be visible together!

The front of a T-shirt could be considered as a site for the construction and display of identity for the wearer, as well as being a fairly democratic and accessible public space to locate and share cultural messages. The horror-film typeface might suggest an art world being overwhelmed by new talent much like a zombie invasion, with curators and selectors being torn limb from limb as they desperately try to gatekeep.

I’m NOT proposing that emerging artists are zombie-like, or lacking in agency. It’s more that at a structural level, the art world behaves as though emerging artists are abject: why else would early-career artists be asked to work for free or ‘for exposure’, or without contracts that provide job security, or in many cases, be charged a fee to exhibit their work? Why else would they be required to relentlessly pursue visibility, in a climate of enforced competitiveness, on playing field skewed by unevenly distributed cultural capital and hidden networks of privilege?

The horror is in the experience of being an emerging artist as currently constituted by an inequitable and unmeritocratic art world. To continue the zombie metaphor, perhaps the new wave of emerging artists will overrun, cannibalise, and replace some of the existing unbalanced and unsustainable systems of art world power.

Item Type: Artefact
Faculty: School of Digital, Technologies and Arts > Art and Design
Depositing User: Michael DAY
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2023 16:34
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2023 16:34

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