3 Questions with Fred Lonidier of Labor Link TV
Throughout Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only, we'll feature Q&As with several of the artists in the exhibition.
Next week we screen two films about labor—Matewan and Maquilapolis—a subject close to the heart of Made in L.A. artist and activist Fred Lonidier. Both films will be followed by discussions with the artist, who we talk to below.
Hammer Museum: You have taught at UCSD for many years. How has this work as an educator in Southern California affected your practice?
Fred Lonidier: I was a TA for Introduction to Photography for two quarters my first MFA year in the Visual Arts Department the fall of 1970. I also taught Summer Session for four years. When I got my degree—along with Phil Steinmetz—David Antin hired us each as half-time lecturers to set up and run the photography emphasis of the new Media Major. When Antin got another appointment for photography starting in the fall of 1974, we both became Assistant Professors. My practice affected my teaching more than the other way around, as my commitments to dealing with social class did not really resonate with even the many radical students of the anti-war and feminist movements. They got an introduction to class which interested many, and references to it showed up in some work, but none really got on board with class struggle as their thing. Much of the New Left only gave lip service to class. My class orientation came out of involvement in the anti-war movement since the mid 1960s. Steinmetz and I both joined the University Council/AFT, AFL-CIO, and paid our dues until retirement.
Can you talk about how the format of public access television has changed since you started Labor Link TV in 1988?
Since LLTV started, production of programs has varied between group efforts and programs I did on my own. The idea that the starting group would continue fell apart after the completion of our first program. So, I carried on working with whomever I could when I could. In the early 1990s, I got a number of programs out of a few students in the documentary class. For the next number of years, I did most myself or with one other person. Later there were two others who did about five programs each on their own. From the start, I also exchanged programs with a few other labor cable assess groups elsewhere. By a few years ago, I had 96 programs and was also too busy with my photography works to produce anything new myself and—in spite of efforts to get others involved—there are no new programs. But I keep cablecasting what I have on three cable stations here in San Diego County on LLTV's regular time slots. The other change as been the video formats and move to digital.
What is the most important issue for labor rights today in Southern California?
Globalization has knocked most of the union movements back all over the world; the WT0 and other trade agreements have generally weakened whatever labor law protections for collective action workers can take to defend, let alone, advance themselves. Both public and private employers push against "labor rights," whether in law or by contract, so the fight is always on. Some unions do better than others in resisting losses or making gains. Attacks on private sector unions has long included the public sector, and teacher unions are a big target now. But the biggest "issue" is organize, organize, organize...
Tags: exhibitions, artists, made in l.a.