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Money For Nothing But The Rent Is Not Free

By: Andrea Christodoulides

I always dreamt of being an artist.  I know this is a cliché but following my dream was the most important pursuit for me. I always had faith in myself, but I gradually find myself waking up to the frightful reality of today.  I still have a few months of (almost) carefree university days but graduation day is fast approaching. July 2019 is just a blink of an eye away. Goodbye RCA, hello uncertainty. Thinking about this makes me shiver. It is such an oxymoron: graduating from the best art school in the world having spent time and money (6 years of my life and euro150.000 of my parents’ money) studying to become a practicing artist (not to mention another 6 years before that preparing to study) growing up to the realization that I will soon be a practicing artist with no studio to practice, no materials to use, no money to apply to participate in shows ( you need to pay a fee per piece submitted please) no money to pay the rent (which is anyway ridiculously high) no money to have a decent life (decent meaning being able to enjoy a Sunday brunch at AvoBar and visiting an art museum or two just to keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the art world).  Being used to having a sponsor (thank you parents) for everything so far is not making things easier either.

Of course my parents won’t support me anymore as I am 24 years old and they have given me everything they could. All my friends that studied more conventional subjects at university already have jobs and they still struggle to make ends meet so I don’t even want to imagine how challenging will be for an artist like me to make a living. The mere prospect of having to get a “real” job and work 9 to 5 (you hardly finish at 5 anyway) with no time for art gives me the chills. Having to choose between my art and life its unthinkable because for me it’s one and the same. I am wondering whether this is some kind of conspiracy of the art world to make sure that young artists are serious about what they do. Is this some kind of maturity bootcamp? The realization that young artists practically don’t exist in the art world until they have at least spent 10 years struggling at it is daunting and disabling.

All young artists I know (recent graduates) have two or three part time jobs to barely scrape by; devising all sorts of creative schemes to combine jobs and alternating studio space (beginning of week/end of week) to minimize the studio costs. Such a sharp contrast from what reality looked like 20 years ago at least for the then RCA graduates of the likes of Jake Chapman, Tracey Emin and George Shaw. From what Jack Chapman recently confided they were anxious to graduate to devote all their time to producing art because their art was a sure sell. No worries. Money for nothing and the rent’s for free… (Money for Nothing by Dire Straits from the album Brothers in Arms released 1985).

My most recent work has become about this foul circle of a fragmented money-oriented world. A creepy and angry daddy octopus is screaming to the caterpillar God to shit money quicker and quicker as more and more is needed and a mummy octopus is greedily stuffing her mouth with coins not to drop any.  Through my work I am trying to comprehend and come to terms with reality: There is no time, we need to rush to pay the rent. We must pay homage to the caterpillar god to shit money NOW. Shit God! Shit God!

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