Electrate Zelig

Monday, June 5, 2017

The student labor vampire: Proferatu

For some time now I have come to realize that even the most seemingly professional artists are extremely vampiric in their search for newness. What's on the menu? The tech savvy undergraduate.

There is a hunt. This may take place at an exhibition or an institutional event where there is free food. The most snarky vampires will hunt where there are hungry students. Once chosen, a confrontation ensues. Upon a student's vampiric confrontation, the vampire, clinging to their past life as a relevant artist, attempts to dazzle the student. Small talk quickly establishes the cast for a mandatory performance in which the protagonist; an emerging artist trading services for exposure and mentor-ship is befriended by an elder of the tribe; the established artist. At some point in the performance there is a montage. This montage is embedded within vampiric bedazzlement in colorful detail. Talk of pay is left out or not clear. The student, unable to take on a strong position, falls into the trance. The result is very bloody.

I had assumed that this behaviour would stay behind in Miami but alas, the desperation to remain fresh is intense. Combine it with central Florida's disconnect and you have a lot of analogue vampires utilizing dated and/or irrelevant medium, teeming with F.O.M.O.

It is OK to fall out of fashion. It is also OK to begin incorporating the digital into your work. Just do not become a vampire while doing so.

Follow these steps:

1. Pay the student a rate ABOVE MINIMUM wage for their services.

2. Any work created by the student must be accompanied with proper credit of creation.

3. Do not use pedagogy as pay. This is a service included in the student's tuition.

4. Non-specialized labor should be clearly defined and separate from specialized labor.

5. Love and assist (be generous). You have a salary. Use it to empower the student. Never accept free labor.

At the same token, if you are a student you must not let yourself be dazzled and taken advantage of. Understand that the classes you have paid for are preparing you to become a better artist, not just fuel someone else's fire. Remember, if you have taken a class with me and I catch you giving away the skills that I have taught you I will be very upset! Learning how to say no as well as learning your worth can be quite rewarding and may one day just save your life.

Let me help with some steps:

1. We live in a capitalist nation. Your potential client is paid a salary, has benefits, owns their own home. The quickest way for you to get into a better position is to be paid in U.S currency, not in gas, food, favors and guidance.

2. Learn when to say NO. Your time should be fully invested in your own experimentation, not in the work of others.

3. High demand = higher pay. Be clear to yourself on the amount of pay that will keep you afloat. Remember, most cutting edge technology is inaccessible yet absolutely necessary for an established artist's survival.

4. Join forces with others. You are not alone. Work with other students in order to establish fair pay.

5. Avoid extremely hungry vampires. They are vicious and do not care for your well-being.    

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