Nicholas Knouf on Thu, 19 May 2011 09:36:26 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> ISEA2011 Istanbul and some financial realities

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I want to thank you for your detailed response to the many concerns
raised by myself and others on the list. While I do not want to speak
for other posters, my concerns should not be seen as antagonistic
to others involved in organizing ISEA this year; rather they are
offered in an agonistic manner. My assumption was that all of you
were working for free, providing unpaid labor like so many of us
do for academia. Whether this remains a sustainable practice is a
question that is being fought over extensively, especially as we
know in the arena of academic publishing. As others have written, it
behooves us to include in our analysis the practices of conferences as
well, where the sustainability of unpaid labor is conjoined with the
sustainability of travelling to far-flung corners of one's country or
of the globe to attend a short-term event.

Along with Eduardo and Florian I do want to enquire more regarding the
specifics of the ISEA 2011 budget, and the relationship of the yearly
ISEA conferences with ISEA the non-profit organization. What precisely
is the relationship? How are funds held-over from one year to another?
Are they? Is there a public version of the ISEA conference budget? As
many of you are probably aware, non-profit scholarly organizations
often make public their early budgets through business meetings at
their conferences, and through mailings to their members. The US-based
Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA) does so, and
their budget following last year's conference can be seen in their
mailing _Decodings_:

Might it be time for ISEA to take this on as a tradition?

I also want to ask why information about fee waivers is not listed
publicly on the ISEA website.

Your comments regarding the reticence of funding agencies is well put.
But perhaps then the question is not about trying to ask for money
from agencies, such as the American Embassy, that some of us might
not want to be associated with, but rather about how to accomplish
our shared goals in a cheaper fashion---not as an acceptance of
the terms of austerity that we are being forced into, but rather a
practical, local, temporally-limited tactical move that allows us to
come together momentarily to plan future actions.

As Micha mentioned, there are severe concerns among artists regarding
their participation without fees for their work. And I would like to
dispute the contention that academics necessarily have their way paid
for by their home institution. Let me provide the list with specifics.
As a graduate student at an Ivy League university, Cornell, I am
eligible for max $600 in conference grant funding once a year; if I go
on a trip nearby I receive less money and I cannot ask for a second
grant to use up the remaining funds. I am extremely lucky to have this
money available, as many other colleagues at other schools do not have
this opportunity. But it obviously does not even cover the airfare to
the conference, let alone the registration fees. I'm sure many of us
can tell similar stories. While I partially fund my studies through
government-backed student loans, I refuse to provide business to the
credit card companies to pay for research and student expenses. Such
concerns regarding conference finances are of course not isolated to
ISEA and ar! e endemic to our present enterprise..

In sum, ISEA, unfairly or not, has become the touchstone for a lot of
our ire regarding the inertia of intellectuals, artists, and others
being asked to pay to partake in expressions of their unpaid labor.
How much longer we can sustain this ecology---mentally, socially, and
physically, to use Guattari's categories---is of urgent concern.



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