Dismantling professionalism in a for-profit economy

“THE ARTISTIC MISSION”, Module II of AFFECT 2016 at AGORA COLLECTIVE: Jessie Alice | Charles Czarnecki | Magdalena Rua Golba | Remina Greenfield | Monika Karczmarczyk | Saem Lee | Dorottya Magyar | Amina Muniz | Kiana Rezvani | Madeleine White
Coordinated by Paz Ponce

This workshop attempts to analyse how professionalism in the arts functions and what are the ideologies and values systems embedded on it. We will enroll in an collective investigation on what is the role of art in the given economy, looking from the ethical perspective of which value systems guide the aspirations and motivations of artists to reach the standards of professional success. The artist mission could be understood as affecting professionalism from within and to create a space where belonging together is not based on individual achievements but rather on a collective playground for mutual affections and common commitments.



In the last decades we have gone through a process of hyper-professionalization in the arts. The consequences are several: competitiveness rules the social interaction, the artist becoming passive obedient agents submitting to the evaluation of professional control system and public critical approval and surrendering to the judgement of authority of the mediators. Hence, professionalism has become the ultimate criteria to validate/legitimize an artist, hi-jacking the public space into a space for publicity, individual achievement, career ladder, profit seeking…

Is “professional artist” an oxymoron? In that case, what is exactly the tension produced by artist entering professionalism? How can one benefit from the tension of this contradiction? Can this tension constitute a playground/battlefield for artists to operate and produce work? How can an artwork dismantle the positions of privilege installed and perpetuated by professionalism? How to reformulate the political body as the main tool for social transformation?

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In this light, the workshop will provide the participants with a frame to problematize together the way they access the professional structure, addressed to anybody who would like to commit to work together in a mutual practice of self-examination on what is the purpose of making art, which value system operate behind their professional practices, and what are the tactics and strategies to infiltrate to and affect the professional structure from within.


The methodology is based on a set of exercises organized by a common practice of continuous reformulation of what we will have done on the previous day. The body will play an important role becoming a battlefield of our research. No physical background is required. The purpose is to understand the constitution of the political body as the fundamental matter of social transformation within the realm of our everyday life actions. At the end of the workshop we will host an event in order to open our practice to a public.

Photos by Joana Dias