The day after the election, a well-known art collector writes: “Congratulations President-elect Donald Trump. The people have spoken….nothing left to do now but stop bitching and griping and get on with the job. …it’s not as bad as you think.” That day, the stock market also spoke by closing at an all time high.
Business will go on for the wealthy, the top tiers of the art market will continue to boom, but many face dark days ahead. Racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia have been normalized while inequity across all communities is sure to widen. The inequity shared by people in red and blue states is financial precarity and debt. Occupy Museums invites artists across the US to unite in Debtfair, a project that will be shown at the Whitney Biennial in spring 2017. Debtfair is a means of exposing the hidden layer of debt within the art market and its institutions. The 92 artists currently on debtfair.org hold 5.2 million USD of debt. We will expand this community in 2017. All artists who apply through this open call will be featured on a revamped debtfair.org and their work will be shown digitally in the museum, 30 artists who are indebted to the same institutions will exhibit their physical work. We believe that the practices of painting, sculpture, performance, video, music, and conceptual practice lie at the core of a progressive democratic society. Yet artists and culture workers face evermore extractive economic burdens parallel to the booming wealth and financialization of the art market. Debt often elicits feelings of shame and alienation. It is a hidden tool of economic, social, and racial division. Yet, by showing how we are interconnected through it, Debtfair mobilizes around the financial relationships that bind us to one another, locating possibilities for solidarity in a global struggle, and leveraging our collective power as debtors. We ask our fellow artists to complete the following questionnaire to begin the process of joining Debtfair. Sharing data about your debts allow us to paint an accurate picture of art and debt today. Only images of your artwork and select written answers are shown publicly with ability to edit your public profile at any point. All information is kept in confidence. We are particularly interested in organizing groups of artists around the following criteria: 1. Artists currently in default (including but not limited to education, mortgage, auto, credit card, medical and personal debts. Institutions may include but not be limited to JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, FedLoan, Sallie Mae, Navient, Fannie Mae, debt collectors, etc.). 2. Current and former students of New York University with outstanding debts. 3. Puerto Rican Artists and artists of Puerto Rican descent who have been directly affected by austerity measures and/or with relationship to Banco Popular (and other institutions). Artists in the exhibition will be notified by the end of December 2016. For media restrictions and further guidelines, please see details in the application link. Submission deadline: 9/12/16, 11:59pm EST, Apply Here: https://debtfair.submittable.com