4/25: Just back from the Bay Area, where I was honored to be a part of Valuing Labor in the Arts, a practicum organized by the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley together with the brilliant Helena Keeffe. I’ll be writing about the event for an upcoming issue of Art Practical, and there will probably be video of my talk at some point, but until then you can read a few essays and workshop prompts in an earlier issue, and I’ll leave you with a little moment that was one of my favorites: Living genius Yasmin and Calicopie provided lunch and hors d’oeuvres. In the evening, little signs marked each of the small bites; one read, “EMPLOYMENT: Union-picked organic strawberries / Walmart banana cream”. Another, “EXPLOITATION: spicy corporate slaughterhouse chicken processed with minimum wage labor”. We stood around, drank from disposable glasses of wine, chatted, agreed that the food was amazing. Later, we all sat ourselves around banquet tables for an evening of talks, and Yasmin spoke very shortly about the night’s catering. She talked about parallels between the invisibility of labor in art and in food production, about the ways that aesthetics can disguise the conditions of production. She talked about the berries, and then about the chicken: “The chicken tonight is actually from Kentucky Fried Chicken, which pays its workers $7.63 an hour on average. Even managers only make $10.89, but they gross 4.22 billion dollars a year.” In a video from the event, she needs to pause after she says “Kentucky Fried Chicken”; there are audible gasps from the audience, muttering. Yasmin closed with a smile, saying, “it’s just an opportunity for you to.. kind of.. explore and enjoy these things.” The audience laughed, and later I overheard one woman reassure another: “Oh, she couldn’t possibly have gotten KFC in here. They’re very strict about outside catering.” It seemed to make both of them feel better.