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Art Centre for Dismissed Employees

Airi Triisberg (1-2/2010)

Introduction by Airi Triisberg
 
With the economic recession hitting Estonia during spring 2009 and the corresponding rise in unemployment, students from the Estonian Academy of Arts came up with the idea of giving the unemployed an opportunity to make art. The Art Centre for Dismissed Employees was set up on the second floor of Tallinn’s Central Post Office building for one week (April 23–30 2009) and gave people who had been made redundant a chance to come together in various workshops. During the course of the week, 14 unemployed people visited the centre. What is significant is not merely the fact that this was an art project that had originated from academic activity, but rather that the art school provided a symbolic role model for neoliberal capitalism – offering an example for creating a flexible, creative and mobile workforce. For the same reason it is no coincidence that, at least in the context of the EUropean student movement, art colleges have played a leading role on several occasions (in Vienna, for example). The transversal aspect of the contemporary student movement is especially evident in the fact that, alongside the radicalization of the university institution, students are increasingly identifying themselves with the exploited working class, united by their unstable working and living conditions. Unfortunately the Art Centre for Dismissed Employees was too short-lived for its political appeal to bear fruit.
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