W.A.G.E. Releases New Video Ridiculing Documenta 13 for Not Paying Exhibiting Artists

The New York-based artist collective W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy) released a new video this week ridiculing Documenta 13 curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev for the decision not to pay the artists who participated in the exhibition, which was on view from June through September in Kassel, Germany.

The video begins with a clip of some off-the-cuff remarks by by Christov-Bakargiev in which she tells an audience, “If you were an artist, you didn’t get any money, no, because you were already invited to the exhibition, and you got to produce your work, so we didn’t pay the artists.” It then continues with a “screenplay,” imagining how the curator might react if she was asked to produce Documenta without an compensation.

Last year, W.A.G.E. released a survey of artists around New York City, revealing the disturbing commonality of producing shows without paying the represented artists. The survey, in part, revealed this tidbit about institutions with large budgets, as described to ARTINFO by the group itself:

It looks like larger organizations and museums were 10 percent more likely not to pay an artist fee than small- to medium-sized organizations. While 10 percent isn’t a significant difference, the fact that larger organizations were not more likely to pay is significant, because we assume that larger institutions have greater means than smaller ones, and would therefore be more able to pay fees. The conclusion one might draw from this is that it’s not a matter of being able but is instead a matter of being willing.

See the full video below or watch it on YouTube here.

Shane Ferro