Labour of Love
LABOUR OF LOVE
In mainstream culture, labour and love are frequently pitched as polariseddesires. In our force-fed diet of creative marketing strategy, we are taught that labour and love can only co-exist, in their equal reliance on the fetishised leisure industry. We must work hard to be rewarded with the things we love. We must work hard, love hard and play hard. We must buy fulfillment.
For artists, defining something as seemingly simple as the difference between your acts of labour, love and leisure can be incredibly difficult. In times where we’re told constantly that we need to find ‘work/life balance,’ how do you define the difference between leisure and labour when nobody is paying you?
Is covering yourself in a mound of flowers, taking a photograph of the moment and presenting it to an audience a performance of labour? Ana Mendietta thought so. I think so too.
There is in each of the chosen works, a distinct approach to negating human potential and the value of individual identity. The artists cajole us, with challenging propositions about just what exactly it is that we collectively express when we talk of human progress. They seem to continually ask, how do we know what progress even look like when we can’t see into the future?
‘Unlocking your creative potential,’ is the favoured boardroom buzzword of the last few years, yet, a line is drawn in the sand between creativity and the work that artists perform. While we revere the creative, we remain afraid of art’s potential to expose, disrupt, to hold a mirror up to our inner world. There is a disconnect in perceived value that is glaringly obvious. It is this disparity that means some work sell for ridiculous sums, while the majority of artists are expected to strive in poverty. It is the pretence of supporting any real value of artist’s labour.
Artists are expected to love what they do, and be fuelled often by this alone. Why is that? Why are artists expected to perform their labour as an act of love, while everyone else can expect to be paid to seek their love elsewhere? We revere creativity, yet feel entitled to the fruits of creative labour at no costs to ourselves.
Each artist has been chosen because of their commitment to challenging what we might culturally perceive as ‘work, ’ by generating a complex dialogue that exposes the power relationship between the public and the performative practise of being an Artist. Artists are powerful, when they are seen. It is the performance of their labour- for you- that means art continues to be relevant, despite it all. It is through exhibition that each artist, and each object itself proclaims- ‘now its your turn to work.’