DAMNº 84 - The Everlasting Hunt for Money

Traditionally, artists have preferred to avoid talking about money in favour of freedom. But with the backlash against neoliberalism, especially in art schools, the talk recently has become about nothing but money.

The impecunious  and precarious state that artists and designers find themselves in, has created a generation of graduates hell-bent on dismantling the system they rightfully see as the cause of so much inequality, climate damage, and excess materialism.

For them, it might all start with the unpaid internship.  This is not a new phenomenon; it began in the government and banking sectors before being adopted by culture. By the mid-aughts it was common practice. “Don’t point that gun at him,” Bill Murray tells an angry pirate in Wes Anderson’s The Life  Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), “he’s an unpaid intern.” The next year, Kanye West (as he was still known) rapped “Maybe you could be my intern”. Foolish and demeaned, the unpaid intern across almost every creative pursuit had become a necessary step towards getting paid, and yet was confusingly branded as ‘foolish’ by claimants of power.

Graduates now, however, are done. They expect to be paid, and not just for an internship, but for work in the fields of art, design and architecture. Gone is the era when art was seen as dirty, and art and commerce tagged as opposing forces. Dismantled are the days when any artist who tried to make money would end up unable to make art. 

In issue 84 of DAMNº we visit what is happening  - how creatives are using the system for change, for inspiration, for debate. We look at the complex role played by money in internships, schools, exhibitions, museums, brands, and discourse - we home in on critical design, activistic art, experimental economic models, and how creatives are embarking on doing more than just reflecting or communicating social ills. They are striving for tangible alternatives.

UK cover price: £21

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