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Division of Labour

Workers Arts & Heritage Centre (WA&HC)
Hamilton, Ontario
January 30 – April 20, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday February 8, 2019    7-9 pm
Artist Material Fund: April 14 – 20, 2019

Division of Labour is an exhibition which brings artists into dialogue on the subjects of class, race, and labour as they relate to cultural waste. Systems of barter economies, critical discourse about community action around consumption, and circuits of solidarity exchange are more present than ever in the daily working lives of artists and cultural producers. The exhibitions and ancillary programming will serve as a pedagogical tool to educate on the scarcity of resources, labour rights, and living wages in the arts. Hearing from artists that politically utilize recycling efforts in their work, will further illustrate the power and potential of reused matter for artistic production.

We are living in a time of increasing economic uncertainty, wage gaps, and class divide. Division of Labour uses this moment to consider the true cost of artists’ labour and economic parity through the recovery and access to excess material. The exhibition doesn’t simply display objects constructed from trash, but operates to support building new networks of resources and methods for the sustainability of artists’ work. It goes beyond giving artists free material, and providing decent artist fees, but serves to open up dialogue about the systemic issues inherent in class dynamics, under employment, and labour exploitation that plague our cultural industry.

Ghost of a Dream, Fair Housing Project, 2015-16

Artist Material Fund: A Temporary Service for a Permanent Problem

Lastly the most important element of the project is putting it all of this talk into action. The mission of the exhibition is to work towards a zero-waste outcome so during the final week the exhibition will close to make way for the Artist Material Fund. Materials collected from the artists’ construction and surrounding cultural institutions will be given away to artists and individuals in the community, rather than finding its way into the local landfill. People will have the ability to take any and all material from the installation as well as other items, equipment, and fabrications slated for disposal from other cultural institutions in the area.

This service approaches recycling and trash collection as an artistic endeavour. The mission is to relocate material and diminish waste that is produced from the art industry, while providing resources to artists to further produce work in a financially viable way, in cities that are becoming increasingly less friendly to individuals in lower income brackets. The program seeks to actively cultivate an environment that supports and promotes the sharing of underused goods to exploit their full potential value and acts as a redistribution centre so artists can “shop” for items that they need to complete projects and build more efficient studios.