Prekariart International Seminar 7-8 May Bilbao

The Commission of Culture of the Spanish Congress of Deputies presented, in February 2018, the report of the subcommission in charge of the elaboration of a proposal to lay a Statute of the Artist (SA) out in Spain. In this report, the subcommission set out the appropriateness of implementing various actions to modify the tax, self-employment, and civil procedure laws in order to improve the socio-economic situation of artists and cultural agents. Nevertheless, this report is nothing but a declaration of good intentions for the time being.

The researchers of Prekariart team share a particular interest to follow the development of the SA, as the study of the precarious state of the arts sector and the possible means to contain this condition is one of the principal objectives of their project. In this context, we understand many artists may not feel represented in the report, in spite of the goodwill of the agents who elaborate it to bear in mind its sustainability and inclusiveness.

The traditional and elitist model of fine arts bases the contemporary art system, which privileges a highly reduced number of the existing artists and, as a consequence, only recognizes the contributions of a minimal representation of them. This fact has maintained the production of art to low levels, compared to the actual productive capacity. Besides, the recent paradigm of art production, diffusion, and consumption, by means of the implementation of the Cultural and Creative Industries, takes on and reproduces this state of affairs, even at the expense of the precariousness of many artists, becoming a structural condition. Under these assumptions, numerous artists carry out projects which, due to their particular features, take place in marginal contexts or/and are even positioned outside of the legal, fiscal, and labor regulations in order to continue making art.


The SA compiled various recommendations —from a very broad professional domain with many involved interests— which all parliamentary groups finally and unanimously endorsed.

Even with all that, and just to highlight a basic issue, the term ‘artist’ is really ambiguous in Spain, as it fundamentally refers to the professionals in the show business, so that the inexistence of a precise and specific definition of visual artists would be a primary hurdle to generate a set of regulations with the ability to respond to the scarcities of the sector.

With this context in mind, we set out the following questions:

  • Do people who devote to contemporary art making have a will to regularize their labor and professional situation?
  • If that is the case, how should this regularization be achieved? Who should be responsible for it?
  • Are artistic activity and its legal regulation compatible?

The leading question to be asked, though, would be: Is art a job? This question structures all the previous ones and will guide the debates to be held during the seminar, to analyze the specific issues of artistic activities as labor ones; to add to the repertoire of the ways to attend to the needs the lack of a regulatory framework in the field implies; and to highlight and propose dignifying ways of labor further than “good practices”.


  • One main objective, given the topicality and the interest of this issue for the sector, consists of providing proposals which may be used to actually activate the SA.
  • Another objective would be to raise awareness of those forms of organization among artists which may be considered as meaningful contributions in the labor terrain for artists and creatives. We understand contemporary artists implement strategies which allow them to generate their own audiences through innovative modes of production and set their focuses on the needs of society in real time. Consequently, we will carry out a quest for artists/collectives and/or social agents who try to make common cause to develop alternative modes of legitimacy and existence through art.
  • Finally, a third objective would imply drawing attention to artistic productions which encourage direct relationships between art and citizenry. To do so, besides searching and critically revising those artistic activities which meet this parameter, we will also foster the realization and diffusion of contextual, collaborative, and collective artistic interventions, along with cultural agents, artists, platforms, and networks carrying out this sort of praxis.

The objectives above meet the goals and core concepts defined in the EECTI 2013-2020 (Spanish Strategy for Science and Technology, and Innovation). Thus, we state this research focus on the ‘generation of cross-border knowledge’, as it is based on an interdisciplinary approach from diverse fields of knowledge which converge into a common thematic. If art equals knowledge, it must open to other foundational processes, in a direct dialogue with the needs of society.

In fact, our project understands art as an experimental laboratory which results are the product of an interdisciplinary structure capable to create transferable knowledge, useful in other fields and disciplines.


May 7 (morning season)

Place: Faculty of Fine Arts, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Leioa.

Oral presentations: “Women and art labor”.

9:30 – 10:30. Guest speaker Nuria Güell: Patria, Patriarcado y el Arte.

10:30 – 11:00. Debate.

11:00 – 11:15. Coffee break.

11:15 – 12:15. Guest speaker Marta Pérez Ibáñez: Segmentación “mujeres artistas” La actividad económica de los/las artistas en España. Estudio y análisis. Edición revisada y ampliada (2018) [Segmentation “women artists from the results of the research The economic activity of Spanish artists. Study and analysis. Revised and expanded edition (2018)].

12:15 – 12:45. Debate.

12:45 – 15:00. Lunch break.

May 7 (evening season)

Place: Bizkaia Aretoa, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Bilbao.

15:00 – 15:30. Guests and attendants’ reception.

15:30 – 15:45. Opening (Concepción Elorza).

15:45 – 16:05. Guest speaker Pascal Gielen (University of Antwerp, CCQO): ‘Commoning Art Constitutions: Organizing Sustainable Creative Labour by Civil Action’.

16:05 – 16:25. Guest speakers Vanesa Castro & Ignacio López Ordóñez (Insultarte): El trabajo artístico. Márgenes e interferencias [Artistic labor. Margins and interferences].

16:25 – 16:25. Guest speaker Nuria Guell: Afrodita (2017).

16:45 – 17:00. Coffee break.

17:00 – 17:20. Guest speaker Ruben Stenium. UKS (Young Artists’ Society)—speculations and propositions for an international labor union for artists and self-employed cultural workers.

17:20 – 17:40. Guest speaker Isidro López-Aparicio. Title of lecture to be confirmed.

18:00 – 18:20. Guest speaker Felipe Manuel G. Gil (Zemos 98). Title of lecture to be confirmed.

17:40 – 18:00. Guest speaker Marta Pérez Ibáñez: ‘La supervivencia en el sector artístico español en tiempos de crisis. Estrategia de autogestión y resiliencia’.

18:20 – 18:50. Compilation of written comments and questions from the attendants and closing of season.

May 8

Place: Bizkaia Aretoa, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Bilbao.

10:00 – 14:00. Guest speakers and Prekariart researchers closed meeting to discuss the key guidelines to present in the following public session.

14:00 – 16:00. Lunch break.

16:00 – 16:30. Introduction of key guidelines.

16:30 – 17:00. Collective brainstorming discussion.

17:00 – 18:00. Discussion in groups.

18:00 – 18:30. Coffee break.

18:30 – 19:30. Presentations of the different groups.

19:30 – 20:00. Conclusions and closing. Video-projection by Oihane Iragüen.