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Contemporary Art’s Economy of Immaterial Production: 1990s-2000s

Rotenberg, LH; (2014) Contemporary Art’s Economy of Immaterial Production: 1990s-2000s. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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This thesis aims to offer an unprecedented in-depth analysis of contemporary art and “immaterial labour,” a body of theory emerging from Italian Operaismo in the 1960s that argues for a new conception of labour as abstracted, or “immaterial” as it is no longer based on earlier forms of industrial manufacture. My research investigates how artists might embody the qualities of “immaterial labour” and act as innovators in new forms of exchanges, knowledge, and communication, creating the valued symbolic content of commodities in a post-industrial, service-oriented and knowledge-based global economy. The alignment of art with this new standard of production poses a challenge for today’s artistic praxis that, in the 20th century, found much of its raison d’être in defending art’s autonomy and critiquing art’s status as a commodity. Addressing the notion of art ‘work’ as both a process of making and a good produced by artists, my central research question asks how artists adopt and contest the precarious and flexible working conditions of the immaterial economy. This research offers case-studies of Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, French artist Pierre Huyghe, American artistscollective Temporary Services, and Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, as well as brings together aesthetics, economic and political philosophy to foreground the ways in which immaterial labour might conceptualise and impact both the development of new aesthetic forms, values and uses of art, and the potential for today’s art to resist and critique the dominant forms of exchange and social conditions produced by advanced capitalism.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Contemporary Art’s Economy of Immaterial Production: 1990s-2000s
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1448847
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