Homework

January 4, 2008

Maybe it’s a function of being in the home stretch of an MFA program, but I feel an even-more-pressing-than-usual need to make work.  As if this is my last chance.  Which it sort of is, in a lot of ways, unless I reconfigure my artistic practice and end up the kind of artist who makes, say, 10 photographs a year.  Which has always seemed bizarre and alien to me until some recent economic downturns plus the high cost of living anywhere in the US made me realize that most artists, even well-known, money-making artists, simply don’t have the time and money to actually make art.

The images below are all photographs of the boundaries of cultural ideas of Los Angelean geography: the valley, the Inland Empire, Orange County, etc.  I’m fixated on Los Angeles as livable territory and cultural ideal because I’m frankly not sure how so many people manage to live here.  It is, simply put, too expensive to live in Los Angeles: standard, very small apartments generally fall in the $1200 to $5000/month range if you include utilities–and I’m talking about Van Nuys or Koreatown, here, not West Hollywood or “The OC.”

Doing the math on bare subsistence, I figure that I would need to make at least $25,000 a year, after taxes, in order to just survive once I graduate.  That probably doesn’t sound like much, but the problem is that, even with the recent minimum-wage increase to $8.00/hr here in California, even with three or four jobs (theoretically) I still probably couldn’t scratch that much together. 

The bigger problem, though, is: there are no jobs in Los Angeles.  None.  This explains why there’s no real rush-hour here, just a constant 24-hour stream of people, but where are all these people getting money to live?  Or rather: there are jobs if you know someone, but not if you’re simply an overqualified stranger working for minimum wage, which is roughly how much I make.  And if it’s like this in LA, I can’t even imagine what it must be like in NYC or London.   

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One Response to “Homework”

  1. AdamFeldmeth Says:

    I can say this very simply:
    In comparison to the serf, the serf had it better. Granted, serfs were under rule, but if you consider the land owners property as a giant house (or house with ample front lawn) its understandable that if you enter someone else’s house you must abide by their rules. A few chores for shelter and protection? There is no question.

    I also fancy the life of the colonial hermit. you know, a baron or someone with a massive estates has his ostrich, his zebra, and his hermit. Yes, you were thought of as some wonderous animal amazement he might show off to his guests (at safe distance of course), but you could live on and off his land as you wished.

    To pay with one’s skill is much more fulfilling than to pay.


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