Performance ≠ Hobby

I can’t think of any job nowadays less payed than working as a performance artist. Even 60 years after FLUXUS and BodyArt have paved the way to this artistic expression, it´s still such a non respectable profession mostly considered as a hobby, except for a very small number of those in their late 60`s. There are no rights, no established standards of quality, no representing venues, no agents and production managers and no regular programs of performance pieces. Some of them are impossible to perform every night, such as theatre or choreographic pieces, due to dangerous, exhausting and health threatening actions as well as due to it´s specific constellations and that automatically means no regular incomes=therefore=no way to earn enough for living, unless teaching at the art academy if politically suitable. Teaching who? A bunch of future jobless artists? If an artist is very lucky, some ”live art” festival is going to invite him/her to perform, no more than once in 5 years (if the festival is lucky to survive) and even that opportunity would be full of compromises with full time employed, bloodless curators and structure of the venue. In 90% of all cases, an artist is performing for CV, in some cases an artist is even obliged to pay to be able to perform for CV. For instance in Germany and Belgium almost all festivals and all free venues are reserved almost exclusively for contemporary choreography and pamphlet theatre. The rest is an entertainment popularly called ”interactive art”. Some pretty radical measures should be taken before this profession is completely marginalised or taken for a grant.


2 thoughts on “Performance ≠ Hobby

  1. This is the situation for any kind of arts: venues are hostages held by institutions, the field is tightly controlled by the system that marginalises who is not compliant with its lines, because art has much power indeed and no system would ever use art against itself. Just think that the most famous artists in the world where covertly financed by secret services. Art that is non-functional to the system is simply marginalised, if not contrasted, “they” want art that praises their glory.
    Private initiatives are subdued to profit, so today’s artists have to pay for (so called) promotion, and, by the way, often performers don’t pay the exhibition fee just because they already have other expenses like travel, hotel, etc.
    The public? Well, it has been educated to be a consumer, looking to art as an entertainment, so all in all, breaking the system of things is hard, so this comment is just to say, keep the fight, treat them badly, the sleeping bubble have to burst.

    • Thanks a lot for replying on my post. I really appreciate your informative and uncompromising remarks regarding the main issues I have pointed out. However, we have our lives as an opportunity to try to react and change something which we believe that is heading in a wrong direction or beneficial to only a very small percentage of people being constantly pushed by numbness secret lobbies and individuals. Performance artists are still freelancers with no basis or mother venue. Most of us don`t have a health insurance because in order to have it, you must show regular or at least semi-regular incomes and pay taxes to the government. How can you survive if you get a chance to show your work once or twice a year and if you are very lucky to get some artistic wage, you may earn max 1000 EUR on a yearly basis. Is it enough for the entire year, unless an artist is not working thousand other jobs to survive? After all, the history will be telling the story. What will be the content of that story depends on us.

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