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Lanfranco Aceti
Visiting Professor and Research Affiliate
Art, Culture and Technology @ MIT

Google Scholar: citations?user=snEM2x0AAAAJ&hl=en
ORCID: 0000-0002-6835-2382
Twitter: lanfrancoaceti

Reference this essay: Aceti, Lanfranco. “Publishing the Unpublishable: Or on Why There Ain’t Such Thing as a Free Lunch.” In (im)print: Artists as Publishers as Artists. Cambridge, MA: LEA / MIT Press, 2019.

Published Online: August 15, 2018
Published in Print: To Be Announced
ISSN: 1071-4391
ISBN: To Be Announced
DOI: To Be Announced
Repository: To Be Announced

Acknowledgement: The Leonardo Electronic Almanac is a collaborative effort supported by MIT Press, Leonardo/ISAST, Goldsmiths, KHM, New York University (Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development), OCR (Operational and Curatorial Research), and CAC (Contemporary Arts and Cultures).



The essay will analyze the cost of operating within academic publishing as well as the ideas of ‘free contribution’ and ‘service to the academic community’ that have become synonyms of neo-slavery for neo-serfs in a context in which non-profit academic publishing and non-profit academia have transitioned into a thriving exploitative industry.

The contemporary inherited frameworks of service and support within academic communities have been transformed in institutionalized unreasonable demands that, within a transactional educational framework between the students as consumer on one side and the university/publisher as corporate dominus on the other, excludes artists, professors, authors, editors, and reviewers from a monetary compensation for their time and work.

How does a publication exist in the interstitial spaces of these processes of exploitation and what are the ethical obligations of corporate publishing to keep ‘free’ content Open Access (OA) while at the same time fulfilling a mission that is to give visibility to an area, the interdisciplinary field of art and humanities, constantly struggling for funding and for visibility, never fully acknowledged in one field or the other, and always falling into the cracks of institutional taxonomic contempt?

LEA (Leonardo Electronic Almanac) is such a publication, entirely managed by volunteers and now facings the demands of ever more tiresome customers, who, without paying any of the necessary dues either in kind or in cash, expect a corporate service while not contributing with their service to the services rendered by the people who volunteer (work for free) for the enshrining in the history of art, through a publication project, of aesthetic undertakings, social activities, and academic thinking that otherwise would be silenced, left at the margins, or simply lost.

Keywords: Exploitation, academia, publishing, free lunch, art