Think Art Handling Isn't Sexy? Think Again

The art handlers behind your favorite exhibitions have made the most compelling calendar for 2017.

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Dec 21 2016, 2:50pm

Images courtesy of the Art Handlers Calendar team

What do art handlers, the perennially uncelebrated workers behind your favorite exhibitions, have to do with the looming presence of 2017? For the third consecutive year, a group of these anonymous laborers are releasing their Art Handlers Calendar, fusing the comic absurdity of FDNY-style calendars with an earnest plea for increased visibility as the rarely appreciated backbone of the art world.

The 2017 edition of Art Handlers Calendar departs from the goofy, oversexualized aesthetics of the calendar’s previous iterations, opting instead for a serious but sensual, black-and-white look for the 12 monthly images. “For 2017, we gave the creative reins to fashion photographer Max Bernetz and art director Hans Maharawal,” tells Zaq Landsberg, one of the few individuals involved in the calendar who chooses not to remain anonymous.

Whether carrying a crate, measuring a wall, or slicing open a box of art, the new images of the art handlers possess a certain majestic but stoic quality, reminiscent of high-end editorial images of artists getting their first cover story in a major art publication. “The images have an emphasis on the aesthetics of work, revealing what remains unseen on the job. The aim is to put the handlers in natural context and draw out the raw character of the models. The sexiness comes not from the skin revealed, but from the visible confidence and conviction,” adds Landsberg.

Art Handlers Calendar began as a reaction to a sense of art world disregard felt by Landsberg and his co-handlers, exemplified by a particularly obnoxious instance of neglect: “I had recently started working at a particular institution and learned that as ‘independent contractors,’ we were not invited to the company Christmas party,” Landsberg tells The Creators Project.

“The original idea was to use the calendar as a way to raise money to have an independent contractors Christmas party. But then we got a piece in an art blog at a very good time and it blew up all over the internet, and we did well enough to throw the party and still have money left over, which we donated to The Bowery Mission. We were all unified in wanting to give it to a charity that was not art-related, and have focused on tangible and immediate causes since.”

A couple years later and the project has become increasingly focused on philanthropy and less concerned with funding an unforgettable Christmas party. The majority of the proceeds made from Art Handlers Calendar 2017 will not only be donated to The Bowery Mission, but also to Sangsangai, an organization providing relief for victims of the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, and to Planned Parenthood, in light of possible defunding as Trump becomes head of the state.

The 2017 edition of Art Handlers Calendar can be purchased from the group’s Etsy page, here.

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