The Labour of the Performance Artist
Something is at work in the practice of the artist which resists the immediate link between value and labour and can be briefly described as an abundance of rests, a superfluous tendency, a passivity, which is an excess of production at the same time. This abundance can offer strong empowerment to the processes of life and affirm the creation beside the capitalistic processes of valorisation and socialisation. In the last few years, the proximity of the arts and capitalism has been analysed especially from the perspective of proximity between artistic work and post-fordist work in which the artist is regarded as a model for the contemporary worker, because of their linguistic and creative skills, which are at the centre of contemporary exploitation. However, the reason for the proximity lies not only in the social transformation of work (with creativity at the centre of production) but can be strongly related to the material quality of artistic labour: there is something in the inclination, weight, temporality and materiality of the artistic work which brings about this proximity of artistic labour and contemporary modes of work. The artist is not only a model for the contemporary worker because of the creativity, precarious position and diminishing life/work relation, but something else is here at stake.
In my lecture, I would like to illustrate how artistic labour became visible again due to the idiotic, wasteful, repetitive and passive work at the heart of contemporary capitalism, which continuously needs to produce value from even the most meaningless and useless labouring gestures in order to sustain itself.
Moderation: Lisa Hinterreithner
is a full professor at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies / ATW – Institut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft, Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Germany, where she is head of the international masters programme Choreography and Performance.
Her primary research interests are the problem of the body in contemporary performance, theatre and dance, gender studies, philosophy of the body, art and technology, art and science, theatre and dance studies, representation of contemporary identities.
The lecture was invited as part of the lab down to earth – lying around – a very gentle strike initiated by Lisa Hinterreithner.