On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Jackie Clay, artist.
Preceding the autumn of 2011, an occupation was one’s job. Even then the implications were different from say a career or “calling.” An occupation was something you did five to seven days a week. It paid bills and supported homes. It is not shiny or romantic. The events over a year ago – most notably in New York City and Oakland – reframed occupation. The term, occupy was newly politicized. The Occupy Movement literally sat in spaces of corporate industry, disrupting commerce with the hope of dismantling global markets and redistributing power. Still, as the more visible iterations of the Occupy Movement fade, I returned to the rhythm of under-employment. Sex work – my line of work – is a peculiar occupation. It is messy and complicated. It is globally relevant and cross-cultural. Contemporarily it takes on many forms, both corporate and individual. Although far outside the arts, my work has provided unanticipated perspectives on gender performance, sex and pornography.