Who’s a real artist? In America, the critic and the curator, the gallerist and the buyer all drop hints. But the final judge – the one that can finally make or break you – is the tax man.

2/15: The Audit of Venus.

I wanted to find out more about the State of Minnesota’s audit of Venus DeMars the moment I heard about it. Last fall, I went to meet Venus right before she and her lawyer sent their final appeal to the Department of Revenue. I wrote about it, and here it is, for you.

The load got a lot lighter when the appeal paperwork went in. Venus has been working hard, and has done some amazing things: she’s been playing solo and full band concerts, just premiered a new performance work with support from a State Arts Board grant at the Soap Factory, and tonight (!) a new solo show of her drawings opens at Rogue Buddha in Minneapolis. She expects to receive the ruling on her appeal this spring.

It’s been a real privilege to hear Venus and Lynette’s story, and I hope I tell it well. Thanks also to John, Beth, Emily, and Marianne, all of whom took time to speak with me about the case, taxes, and art as a business during my visit.

Read the story.


Launching now: Open Book, a series of pamphlets for print and screen. Old writing, new writing, paywalled writing, other people’s writing. Sounds and images. We’ll see.

Other people have spoken more eloquently about academic writing, its problems, and its relationships to issues of power, inequality, and access than I will. For the moment, with records pressed on our own and public projects carried out by force of will and sites like aaa…rg.org on our team, let’s give it a shot.

New and old writing, updated periodically. Rolling out slowly this month with more to come soon.


1/16: Just back from the W.A.G.E. Summit in New York, where an amazing team of board members and supporters (among which group I enthusiastically claim membership) hashed out the details of W.A.G.E. Certification. Expect to see a fee schedule and certification process rolled out this year, beginning in New York City. Sign up for updates here and join the coalition here. W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy) demands payment for making the world more interesting.


12/6: In Växjö, happily waiting out the storm at the CCS at Linnéuniversitetet. Heading next to Stockholm to talk on Monday, then points south. See you soon?


Hey Chicago: I’m leaving. Thanks so much to Johannes, Terence, and Fiona; Jennifer, Will, and Betty; Kellie and Hannah; and David and Margarita. Hope to see you all again soon!

That’s what you get for stealing.

11/21: This happened:

11/18: On my way to Chicago, where I will be needing a lozenge come Thursday night. Will I be seeing you during SSHA, maybe at the session on “organizing symbolic power” at 8am Thursday? Too early? Maybe we can share lunch at the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago. Really, still too early for you, lazybones? Surely we can snack together at the Culture Workshop at Northwestern’s Department of Sociology. It’s not so far. Otherwise, hope to see you back at the Palmer House..


11/5: Thanks to Julia, Joe, Francesca, Roscoe, and Sarah for a great work/culture meeting in Charlottesville this weekend. Hope to deploy the laurel of shame / garland of champions again soon!

9/25: Just back from a long weekend in Minnesota with Venus DeMars. More to come soon. Until then, read/listen and watch:

A CFP for a mini-conference in Baltimore I’m part of. Send us yr papers by October 15.

Invisible Work in Visible Work

Mini-Conference, Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting

For the past fifty years, sociologists have stretched the boundaries of what is recognized as legitimate work. They have identified important “invisible” settings for work, such as the care, gift, shadow and domestic economies. However, as ever more activities have been reclassified as work, sociologists have become less attentive to what actually goes on in already well-recognized workplaces. We suggest renewed attention to less visible forms of cultural work in recognized work settings, such as classification and categorization; emotional and corporeal work; and boundary work. These subtle and symbolic activities manifest across recognized work settings and play important roles in social life. This mini-conference is designed to ask questions about such diffuse and ephemeral forms of work. We invite presentations that grapple with questions common to both visible and invisible work: What is good work? What makes work meaningful? How does working life affect broader cultural structures? How does cultural work affect institutional outcomes? How are reputations negotiated? What contributes to dignity and excellence in the work place? Please send abstracts to workslashculture@gmail.com by October 15, 2013. Contact Tom Crosbie (thomas.crosbie@yale.edu) with any queries.

We look forward to your paper proposals and to seeing you soon in Baltimore.

Sorcha Brophy
Phillipa Chong
Alison Gerber
Ben Snyder

On behalf of the Work/Culture Network, http://workculturesociology.blogspot.com