Stewart Martin: From Art Strike to Self-Abolition

'Be Creative', graphic from Yawn, No.27, 1 May 1991.

Current debates about the politics of artistic labour seem often to attribute a paradoxical status to this labour, considered to share attributes of creativity, flexibility and atomisation with the general profile of neoliberal work as well as carrying an exceptionality that arguably needs to be dismantled for the purposes of solidarity. What tends to get overlooked is the history of negations both internal to the ontology of art in modernity, and in dialectical relation to social struggles which punctuated this period and ours: a tapering but inconclusive present in which the borders between art and any other activity seem less tenable than ever outside of the asset categories and institutionalisations that still reproduce art as ‘different’.
In this workshop, we would like to sketch a topology of antagonisms which art has posited and in which it has participated which highlight the negativity of labour in capital no less than the presumptive negativity of art, on the aporetic site where they converge: the artistic strike.

An event in the series Plastic Givens: Some Incidents Between Production and Abolition
by Marina Vishmidt & Anthony Iles.

Anthony Iles is a writer of criticism and fiction based in London. He is a PhD candidate at Middlesex University, a contributing editor with Mute / Metamute,, and an editor of the forthcoming publication on writing and crisis Anguish Language (Archive Books),

Marina Vishmidt is a London-based writer occupied mainly with questions around art, labor and value. She is the author of Speculation as a Mode of Production (Brill, early 2016) and A for Autonomy (with Kerstin Stakemeier) (Textem, 2015). She also works regularly with Anthony Iles and with Melanie Gilligan. She collaborates with artists and contributes to journals such as Mute, Afterall, Texte zur Kunst, and the South Atlantic Quarterly, as well as co-/edited collections and catalogs,most recently Anguish Language (Archive Books, forthcoming). She is part of the Theory faculty at the Dutch Art Institute, a visiting lecturer at Middlesex University and the University of Brighton, and has taught at the University of the Arts in Berlin, Central Saint Martins, and Goldsmiths.

Stewart Martin is Reader in Philosophy and Fine Art at Middlesex University and a member of the editorial collective for the journal Radical Philosophy. His publications include: ‘Political economy of life: Negt and Kluge’s History and Obstinacy’, Radical Philosophy, 2015; ‘Approaching Marx’s aesthetics, or what is sensuous practice?’ in Re/New Marxist Art History, Art/Books Press, 2013; ‘Short Treatise on Art’, in Aesthetics and Contemporary Art, Sternberg Press, 2011; ‘Artistic Communism – A Sketch’, Third Text, 2009; ‘The Absolute Artwork Meets The Absolute Commodity’, Radical Philosophy, 2007.

Middlesex Universität London / Stewart Martin

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