BRICxHome: Brett Wallace, Artistic Response to Crisis

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Watch our May 13, 2020 Zoom discussion between visual artist Brett Wallace and BRIC Chief Curator Elizabeth Ferrer about an artistic response to crisis.

This presentation considers:

The landscape – how is the landscape of work changing in this crisis?

Art worlds – what may post-COVID-19 art worlds look like?

Potential responses – what are potential artistic responses and positions around self-care, speculation, autonomy, sustainability?

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the systemic challenges facing workers over the last four decades. During this period, real wages have been flat, while workers have taken on increases, in the form of debt, in housing, transportation, fuel, food, healthcare, and education. Wealth for the 1% has increased substantially while 50% of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck, and many small businesses are on the brink of collapse with only a few months of payroll on hand. Labor protections from the New Deal have been rolled back by the perniciousness of neoliberalism, a situation further exacerbated by the gig economy. While workers show up on the frontline, not all of them have the appropriate healthcare or housing they deserve as a human right. The economy has come to a near halt, and the playbook of corporate bailouts, reminiscent of the 2008 bailout of the big banks, has been redeployed to save systems over people.

While survival and health are paramount in this time, the COVID-19 crisis has also created spaces and opportunities to reimagine and reshape not just the ideology of the current system but to imagine new possibilities and paradigms. To stay healthy, to care for others, to share, to deconstruct, to rethink is all part of the skilled work of communities—including artists—around the world. Experimentation with new models will come from artistic communities; it is critical we nourish these activities.

Brett Wallace is a New York-based multi-media artist and filmmaker. His practice involves a multi-level exploration of work, technology, and the greater economy. He is also the founder of AMAZING INDUSTRIES, a research engine that fosters discussions about work among artists, citizens, and workers. Reviews of his work include The New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, Art in America, ARTnews, Artnet, Artslant, Hyperallergic, and BmoreArt. Wallace’s work has been included in recent exhibitions at The New School, NURTUREart, Our Networks, Silas Von Morisse Gallery, SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Reshaping Work, and Gallery 46. He is an alumnus of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Harvard Business School, and he holds an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
We are a leading arts and media institution anchored in Downtown Brooklyn whose work spans contemporary visual and performing arts, media, and civic action. For over forty years, our institution has shaped Brooklyn's cultural and media landscape by presenting and incubating artists, creators, students, and media makers. As a creative catalyst for our community, we ignite learning in people of all ages and centralize diverse voices that take risks and drive culture forward. BRIC is Building Brooklyn's creative future.

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