The Employee is a contracted grant-writer and fundraiser hired to support the Forest City Gallery’s single-person staff for a one-year term. Camille-Zoé Valcourt-Synnott has been hired by the artist Joshua Schwebel, who has conceived of The Employee as an artwork contributing to the structural support of the artist-run centre. Schwebel was awarded funding for the project, inclusive of the employee’s wages, from the Canada Council for the Arts. The delegated set of tasks comprising the project are at once the performance of an artwork and productive work benefiting the gallery. The work externalizes grant-writing and the administrative-economic tasks associated with the financial survival of the gallery as a supplementary durational performance enacted on the administrative margins of the exhibition space.
Any funds successfully earned by way of the project will be incorporated into the gallery’s operating budget, and potentially used to bolster its future workforce.
Joshua Schwebel is a Canadian conceptual artist. His artistic work reconfigures administrative and bureaucratic forms to expose compromises between artistic and economic value systems, and to show how neoliberalism operates through contemporary art. As a trans person who passes as white, cis and male, he uses these intersecting expressions of privilege to infiltrate and deconstruct institutional authority. Schwebel has participated in numerous residencies and exhibited his work both across Canada and internationally. Most recent solo exhibitions include Solvent, at Or Gallery in Vancouver (2019), and The Ground, at Kreuzberg Pavillon, Berlin (2019), as part of the shortlisted artists for the Berlin Art Prize. The Employee, Schwebel’s current project, is funded by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Camille-Zoé Valcourt-Synnott(she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist from Québec (QC), currently based in K’jipuktuk (Halifax, NS). She graduated from Concordia University with a BFA in Print Media and Fibres & Material Practices in 2018 and recently completed an MFA in Fine and Media Arts at NSCAD University in 2020. Her object-oriented and text-based work uses humour as an entry point to make her practice more accessible, while constantly challenging the preciousness of art spaces. Her performance work reflects on the value of the artist’s work, perceptions of productivity and where life and art meet. Recipient of numerous grants and awards, her individual and collaborative work has been shown in Nova Scotia and Québec. During the last two years, she’s been developing a collaborative and curatorial practice with Louis-Charles Dionne and Jacinte Armstrong, using sculptural props, movement and performative instructions.