Reading

Bread and Roses – Artists and the Class Divide

'Artists have continually questioned their status and place in society. The widespread vision of the artist as an outsider from the peripheries of social life, a utopia seeker, a celebrity selling works for millions, or an erudite nonconformist who voices his or her opinions in the public debate, has spawned many myths concerning their privileges and obligations in the contemporary world. The exhibition formulates a question about the way artists define their status and position in the realm of an everwidening economic gap: the possibility to reconcile dreams of social justice with the need of artistic freedom and autonomy. At the same time, the show highlights the tension between an artists’ rather ambivalent affiliation with the intellectual or financial elite and their responsibility for the rest of the society. For artists occupy a paradoxical position among social classes. Quoting Pierre Bourdieu, they form “the dominated part of the dominant class”; they can “flirt” both with the dominant elite and with the emancipation-oriented groups who feel oppressed.' (excerpt from website)

The exhibition Bread and Roses – Artists and the Class Divide was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw from February 19 to May 1, 2016.

The themes presented in this exhibition seemed to resonate with some of the current discourse within the group about the role of the artist / designer in society, communities and within class. We projected the exhibition catalogue on the wall and attempted to read the entire thing front to back with discussions being triggered as we viewed each individual piece of work.

As an experiment, there was a small bar with a limited amount of free alchohol and some background music (loosely themed on class or made as a result of class conditions) to simulate the ambience of being at a private view.

The full catalogue freely available to read online or download here.