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'Labours of Love': A Conversation on Art, Gender, and Social Reproduction

Child, DL and Reckitt, H and Richards, J (2017) 'Labours of Love': A Conversation on Art, Gender, and Social Reproduction. Third Text, 31 (1). pp. 147-168. ISSN 0952-8822

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Abstract

This discussion explores the assumption that it is love, rather than material gain, that motivates art and cultural workers. Addressing how they have internalised the ideology that one loves one’s labour, contributors consider the gendered and class conditions of work in the cultural and academic sectors. Reading ‘theory’ against ‘practice,’ they reflect on their own work experiences and upbringings, their curatorial research, and their readings of feminist and Marxist theories of artistic and feminized labour. They discuss how the precarious conditions of cultural labour today isolate workers, dividing them against each other, and how reflections within feminist art history and theory have downplayed the importance of class and reproductive labour. Highlighting the dangers of over-identifying with work, contributors consider the potential of disidentifying from work roles and from institutional conventions as one strategy to challenge the exploitation of the self as well as others. The article concludes with a consideration of how ‘labours of love’ might be collectively revalued and prioritised.

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