Internships are meant to be additional educational experiences that fill a gap in the formal learning of students and young practitioners. However, this role has shifted in the favor of employers who take advantage of artists’ precarious conditions to obtain skilled labor for little to no cost. Artists and other precarious workers have created alternative forms of organizing work that aim to collectivize their struggles and pool their resources to attempt to break away from the confines of wage labor. What can we learn from artists’ repertoire of resistance? Rather than being a gateway to the labor market, can internships take on the role of testing grounds for alternative forms of learning and organization that center artists’ well-being and collective values?
Taking the form of a handbook, this work aims to assert the role of internships as a learning experience, to show the conditions and implications of their misuse, and to offer practical guidelines in order to take a stance against free and poorly paid labor. Drawing on cases of art labor organizing, it also offers artists examples for alternative economies that support their labor.