“I Am No Worse a Worker Than Someone Who Has Built a Road”

—Mimetic, Expressive and Abstract Labor When It Comes to Art

The workshop explored the theory and struggles of the workerism movement in Italy, along with other
fundamental redefinitions of “work” by feminist-Marxist thinkers who highlighted the role of the housewife as central to capitalist production because they produce its most important commodity: the workforce herself. This provided a basis for rethinking labor struggle, as it made clear that many other struggles including the student, civil rights or feminist movements were connected to broader mechanics of production. It enabled a shift from a focus on the male worker in the factory to many workers within a broader “social factory”. Meanwhile, contemporary communist theory asserts that those struggles were too identitarian, and that self-abolition by the working class is the immediate content of the revolution, including the division of gender and race.

This was followed by an attempt to apply these theoretical tools to a better understanding of the current situation: to comprehend the proliferating forms of unpaid, unfree and invisible labor, the dependence of capital on them, the disciplinary logic of debt and importantly, how to articulate and practice strategies of refusal in the midst of capitalist refusal to “reproduce” the worker. In other words, what kinds of restructuring seem feasible? Points of emphasis included the relationship between art and these forms of labor and subjectivity, and how work registers as an issue through and within art, that is as structure and as subject.
(Text source: Marina Vishmidt)

Kevin DOOLEY (*1983 in Hastings/UK) lives and tries to work in Vienna. His work history includes six years in a supermarket, butchery, teaching, city tours and translating. He has an ever-increasing student debt of £12,500 (as of July 2013). Dooley spends a lot of time in the unemployment office. His work on the project Art Workers Inquiry, Part II: Spectres, part of his first-ever artist-in-residence program, felt like a holiday from unemployment with reduced wages. After visiting a political therapist and a relationship counselor, Dooley decided to be more polygamous and to focus on unionizing as a form of therapeutic empowerment.

Marina Vishmidt, an art theorist, is a London-based writer concerned mainly with questions surrounding art, labor and the value-form. She holds an MA from the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy and has just completed a PhD at Queen Mary, University of London on Speculation as a Mode of Production in Art and Capital. Vishmidt contributes to catalogues and has edited collections and journals including Mute, Afterall, Parkett and Texte zur Kunst. She also participates in the group projects Full Unemployment Cinema, Cinenova and Signal:Noise. In 2013 she was writing a book with Kerstin Stakemeier, art theorist, on the politics of autonomy and reproduction in art.

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