“Sell-out” isn’t such a dirty word anymore: On the effects of corporate & institutional co-optation within counterculture at the ‘Assimilation Politics’ roundtable

, 17 December 2018

“It’s really important that we try to look to other platforms to determine where our creative culture is coming from,” says producer and selector Ari Robey-Lawrence (aka The Neighbourhood Character) at the ‘Assimilation Politics‘ roundtable. “Because otherwise you’re stuck with three or four different platforms that all have various gatekeeping practices.” Hosted by AQNB editor, Steph Kretowicz, and also featuring fellow panellists Dorine van Meel and Philipp Rhensius, the event took place at Studio 1 of Berlin’s Künstquartier Bethanien as part of Berlin’s 3hd 2018: System.Lure on October 27.

The panel was put together to discuss what it means to ‘sell out’ — to compromise ones principles for support — a practice that is now widely accepted as a means for survival in an increasingly precarious gig economy. To sell-out is to live, and artists, producers, musicians, performers, writers have higher living costs, lower pay and fewer independent spaces to work in, outside of corporate interests. Instead of resisting the inevitable total subsumption of the margins by expanding markets, one can join in, get paid, gain visibility and work from the inside. But is this realistic, and what is the real cost of such a concession?

3hd 2018: System.Lure. Image by Salim Bayri. Courtesy Creamcake, Berlin.

The conversation is available to listen in full above, and it features artist and writer van Meel who works with socially engaged art, feminist methodologies and self-organization; writer, musicologist, musician and curator Rhensius; and producer and selector Robey-Lawrence whose work with intersectional and non-binary/queer identities proposes alternative avenues for socio-cultural mobility. Together with Kretowicz, they question the value of visibility and exposure outside of an artist’s original context, and explore the consequences of collusion with the capitalist or state prerogative.**

The Assimilation Politics panel discussion took place on October 27, 2018 at Künstlerhaus Bethanien as part of Berlin’s 3hd Festival 2018: System.Lure. The festival is curated and organised by Creamcake.