AboutAmerican artist Fred Lonidier discusses his artwork and ongoing commitment to the labour movement.
Since the mid 1970s, Lonidier has made a number of documentary photo, text and video installation artworks for, by and about the labour movement. This work was and is being done during his time as a member of the University Council/American Federation of Teachers, as well as a Delegate to the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labour Council, AFL-CIO.
Lonidier received his MFA degree at University College San Diego (UCSD) where he has taught since the fall of 1972. At UCSD, he was part of a group of undergraduate and graduate students, along with the other photo faculty member, Phel Steinmetz, exploring an alternative to what they saw as liberal practices of documentary and its near relative, photojournalism. The Conceptual Art Movement provided for them a way out of the aesthetics of the single dramatic image towards the construction of installation and book works incorporating texts. This broadened approach to art-making allowed for an extended representation of whatever social subjects they were drawn to.
In Marxian terms, Lonidier considers his work to be economistic" in that it is framed around worker/owner relations and struggles. Politics and cultural factors are backgrounded as the work is aimed at recovering a past of greater militancy and solidarity, not to mention, membership density. In the mid 1990s, Lonidier began "N.A.F.T.A. (Nor A Fair Trade for All)..." by working with and making work about labour rights struggles in the maquiladoras, just across the border from San Diego. This comes from a long interest in the issue of international working class solidarity which is what brings him to the UK on this occasion.