Frightening mephitic essence of blatant tyranny oozing from every pore. Maleficent, flagitious, mockery of the Sacred.
I am contacted by representative of arts company to re-create my Clement Space installation in one of their rooms, an immersive, interactive exhibition that will run for 12 months. Two overly long meetings. A deluge of talk, talk, talk. Bubbly enthusiasm. Then, one month of anxiety-laden delay. Broken trust. Agreements ignored. And finally, The Contract.
- The company demands to co-own (in perpetuity) my Clement Space – intellectual property that has existed for three years as an established signature concept and creative work belonging solely to me, the Artist.
- The company demands to literally take possession of the Artist – body, mind and soul – for a period of 12 months, during which the Artist is not allowed to engage in any other creative work, unless the Artist applies in writing for permission from the company.
The payment: $3,500. Read it again. $3,500. No, not even $3,500 per month, which is an insult enough for an artist with a PhD and international experience. It is $3,500 for the entire year. Yes. For $3,500 they want to commandeer a piece of valuable property that does not and will never rightfully belong to them; and they want to play colonial master to the Artist subaltern for an entire year.
An exclamation mark at the end of the sentence fails miserably to represent the shocking impudence and preposterously brazen, flagrant attempt to contriturate the artistic soul.
Hence, I did not put one in.
What manner of heinousness is this? What goes on inside the bowels of these persons’ consciousness? How could they even have conceived of such terms and demands, such high-handed, ludicrous and impudent expropriation? And what kind of arrogance propelled them to put these thoughts into words – an official, legally binding document, no less?
And no, I am not ‘overreacting’ – my lawyer has had a look at it. A serious travesty, no laughing matter.
Of course, I asked for the clauses to be removed. I asked most politely too. Their response was a casual WhatsApp message:
“Good morning, thank you for your feedback and thoughts on the contract- they’re definitely justified, will revert back to you once we’ve deliberated. You have a good day.”
That was Monday. It is now Saturday. Not a hint of an apology. No admission of solecism. And no redrawn, revised, respectful and mutually beneficial contract. Does it really take a whole week to “deliberate” on how to be respectful and fair in your dealings? As if decency and fairness even need to be deliberated on? And how long does it take to strike out two outrageous sections from a contract? Very telling. And most disconcertingly so.
Artists are among the most oppressed and undervalued professionals. The arts scene can be spiteful, exclusive, elitist and ableist, and most artists are underpaid and overworked.
Disabled persons are also among the most maltreated and disrespected people in an ableist, elitist societal culture.
Put the two together, and we have Disabled Artists who are trying to survive under immense odds – compounded. We are asked to work for free, in exchange for “exposure”. Our needs for accommodation and support are brushed off and often even derided. Our requests and protests are delegated to the “Too Hard” tray, while large corporations and organisations milk the “Disability Inclusion” machinery, churning out facetious, spurious terminology like “Diffable”, “Differently Abled” and “Inspirational” – all entrenched in ableist ideology.
Disabled artists in Singapore deserve the basic, fundamental human right to protection against contumelious exploitation and audacious bullying. Enough is enough.
THIS is why we need a Disabled-Led Artists Collective. This is why I have committed my precious time, limited physical energy and scarce resources to leading Singapore’s first, with the support of the Disabled People’s Association (DPA) Singapore. This is why, if you are a disabled artist, I’d like to invite you to sign up to join our collective.
To find out more, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com