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BFAMFAPhD 2016 Core Members Susan Jahoda, Agnes Szanyi, Vicky Virgin, Caroline Woolard

BFAMFAPhD 2016 Contributors Emilio Martinez Poppe, Lika Volkova, Ben Lerchin, Kieran Startup

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In 2014, members of the collective BFAMFAPhD published Artists Report Back [link to download] to raise awareness about art student debt, to suggest how earning artists and arts graduates might advocate for one another, and to propose cultural equity initiatives to move toward a solidarity art economy in the United States. Our Report received national attention, placing us in dialog with student organizers, policymakers, administrators, and government officials, including NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. We are heartened by increased student activism, the Department of Cultural Affairs’ 2015-2016 diversity survey that “offers a starting point for [the City] to take serious action,” by the conversations emerging from the Artist as Debtor conference and the ongoing work of Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York.

While our 2014 Artists Report Back used the vernacular aesthetic of the quantified data report to advocate for structural change, our latest project, Of Supply Chains (2015-2016), provides both a set of practices to think through structures of legitimization and economies of solidarity in the arts, and a comprehensive map for artists to apply sustainable, democratic, and socially just practices to contemporary cultural production. We believe that artists, designers, and teachers want to engage in conversations about structures of support in the arts. The artist and educator Paul Ramirez-Jonas put it this way: “We teach our students how to make art, but we don’t teach them how to make an art context.” Students often graduate without an understanding that institutions and networks are part of a cultural ecology that artists and designers can shape together. We aim to change this.

Of Supply Chains is a free resource for educators that can be used in classroom, exhibition, and workshop contexts to analyse and reimagine power relationships in the arts. The text, workbook, and card game investigates support structures in the arts, offering the vocabulary of supply chains to articulate the politics of production behind any project. Of Supply Chains prompts people to trace the lifecycle of any project—how materials are sourced, how the labor for producing a project is organized, how tools are accessed, how an artwork is supported, copyrighted, narrated, encountered, acquired, and how it finally departs, ready for another life cycle. When the whole supply chain is discussed, a wide range of choices for organizing work, compensating workers, and producing projects becomes visible and open to contestation.


BFAMFAPhD is a collective of artists, designers, technologists, organizers, and educators who facilitate social imagination at the intersection of art, technology, and political economy. Concerned about the impact of debt, rent, and precarity on the lives of creative people, BFAMFAPhD asks: What is a work of art in the age of $120,000 art degrees? BFAMFAPhD creates reports, pedagogical tools, and movement syllabi, including Artists Report Back, Census Report, Statements and …in which nothing can be finally paid off. BFAMFAPhD’s work has been cited widely by mainstream and art ­centric press and has been exhibited at The Museum of Art and Design, Cleveland Art Institute, and The Brooklyn Museum. Select presentations include a workshop at the Creative Time Summit and international week­long intensives in Sweden and Denmark.

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