“Art Workers Want to Know”
by Alan W. Moore
paper read at The Politics of Workers’ Inquiry Conference, May 2-3, 2013, University of Essex


The Art Workers Coalition formed in 1969, adapting “10 Points” of demands for change in the conduct of museums and the artworld. I suggest that the “ghost” of the AWC returns regularly since its central demands were never met. AWC was a moment of collective analysis, informed by the emerging movement of conceptual art. The recuperation of the AWC, and the subsequent rise of the artist-critic-scholar within art education left behind more conventional artist practitioners. The economic agenda of the AWC has been almost totally ignored. The AWC was a kind of union, but had many internal contradictions. Still, artists regularly act together and in solidarity with other workers. The recent inclusion of Occupy movement artists in art events foregrounded the horizontality of that movement. The AWC also was organized as an assembly. Occupied social centers, which are run by assemblies, look for alternative lifeways. They include the socially excluded. They offer people a chance to experiment with their lives. The present-day occupied social centers share possibilities with the 1960s “Sigma” plan of Alexander Trocchi for free universities. The divide between political and artistic activists is the challenge to be overcome in realizing the potential of the current occupation movements.