From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Aug 23 2006 - 08:50:27 PDT
A call for work is posted to the list, containing the info that an entry
fee is required. The usual pile-on ensues, slamming the idea of entry
fees. To be expected.
Susan, who posted the call, replies to explain that she is a unpaid
volunteer, and the fee is related to the costs of showing new work in
Manhattan. Despite the fact this is a completely reasonable explanation,
the pile-on continues.
Frameworks is a small community of people interested in a marginalized
artistic practice. The squabbling here resembles the sectarian disputes
between the different revolutionary groups in Life of Brian, except it's
not as funny.
As I see it, if you make films, and are not an established 'name', you
should be thankful that a programmer in Manhattan is willing to look at
your stuff and maybe show it, by whatever means necessary. The assumption
I would ask everyone here to re-examine is that your work has any
intrinsic monetary value. This notion is simply not compatible with the
way economics work within capitalism. The idea expressed earlier on the
list that it seems bizarre to pay to get your work shown betrays an
ideological mystification. Why is it bizarre? Because the general rule is
"exhibtors rent prints to show them to audiences"? If you examine that
closely, you'll see it's not true. It only applies to some kind of
exhibitors, some kinds of work, and some kinds of audiences. I don't have
the time or the economic expertise to explain exactly how exchange value
is created for a moving image screening, but it's not inherent.
I would venture to say that with the proliferation of all sorts of
low-cost moving image equipment -- between home movies showings to friends
and family and YouTube etc. -- the majority of movie-thing-viewing
experiences now do not involve any sort of 'getting paid.' Experimental
work may be miles ahead of this in aesthetic terms, but like it or not
it's closer to home movies in economic terms.
I know there are people who will exploit artists, and there are probably
more people with good intentions who make promises they can't deliver on
in the end, such as the sad story of the earlier show at The Tank. But
mainly what I see in people who want to show stuff is heroic efforts by
inidviduals that result in different economic situations depending on what
kind of work is shown and where.
Thus, for example, Jeanne is able to run what sounds like a wonderful free
screening series in her neighborhood because she has access to free prints
from the NYPL and a free venue in the public garden. It sounds like she
puts in a lot of monetarily uncompensated labor in organizing the program,
projecting it etc. Heroic. But are we to curse her because she does not
have an open call, does not extend her labors to viewing untold numbers of
submissions from new makers? I think not. But that cursing Susan because
you have to pay rent on a venue in Tribeca makes about as much sense.
Programmers who pay for work are those who are lucky enought to have some
economic resources, be that in the form of grant money, or available
rent-free space or whatever. Not everyone can get a grant. I would guess
arts grants in New York are especially competitive. Volunteers cannot
necessarily be expected to put in the extreme time commitment involved in
hustling up grant money. Funding agencies are generally not interested in
either programmmers or artists without an established 'track record'. I
would also note that few programmers have a completely open-door policy.
Even if the people they program are not 'stars' the programmer has
probably become aware of the work through other screenings or personal
I can imagine that a lot of people could care less if their work is ever
shown in Manhattan. There ARE screening venues that take new works and
don't charge, and if you're content with the limits that come with that,
fine. No reason to hassle Susan because her degree of difficulty (new work
/ volunteer / Manhattan) dictates artists have to chip in or the thing
isn't going to happen. And for anyone who would like their work screened
in Tribeca, why don't you try organizing a screening yourself instead of
pissing on somebody else's method. Form a collective with a bunch of other
artists, work out programming, get a suitable screening space, put out
pub... oh yeah, that all would take TIME and MONEY and YOU'RE not getting
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.