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Socialised Labour under change: collaboration, contracted labour and collective modes of production in art since the 1960s

Child, Danielle Leanne (2011) Socialised Labour under change: collaboration, contracted labour and collective modes of production in art since the 1960s. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Child_DL_History_of_Art_PhD_2011.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
Restricted until 1 March 2022.


Adopting an historical materialist methodology, this thesis examines how artistic labour is affected under specific phases of capitalism from monopoly through neoliberal capitalism. It is not the intention here to argue that artists directly adopt or accept capitalist tropes; rather, it is to argue that the recent socialised artistic practices have a dialectical relationship to the social turn that capitalism has recently taken. The first chapter considers the establishment of US art fabrication firms in relation to the renewal of the deskilling thesis in the late 1960s by Harry Braverman. I argue that the deskilling that occurred in art making in the late 1960s – often termed the ‘dematerialisation of art’ (Lippard and Chandler) - was a response to the ideological changes that originated from the implementation of Taylorist and Fordist production methods in the US. The second chapter addresses the establishment of the Mike Smith Studio in London – an artist facilitator – in terms of the ‘new spirit’ of capitalism (Boltanski and Chiapello). I argue that the Mike Smith Studio was able to emerge as a business model within the UK because of the changes implemented by the ‘new spirit’ ideology and its accompanying neoliberal tropes (such as flexibility, individuality, the network and an increase in contracted labour). My final chapter delineates two socialised artistic practices that exemplify opposing reactions to neoliberal ideologies: relational aesthetics and art-activism. I argue that relational aesthetics adapts to these ideologies whilst art-activism attempts to critique capitalism by stepping outside of the art institution and into ‘everyday life’. Art-activism does not, however, divorce itself entirely from neoliberalism by doing so. I conclude my thesis by considering these newer artistic practices in relation to the task of the historical avant-garde (that is, the return of art to life praxis) and propose that the art-activists are the art practitioners who have come closest to achieving this task.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-159-7
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.557372
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 28 May 2012 10:08
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2017 09:54
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2420

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