Art Work: Invisible Labour and the Legacy of Yugoslav Socialism
Published: June 2021© 2021
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 232 Pages
Illustrations: 9 b&w illustrations
Dimensions: 6.30 x 9.28
232 Pages, 6.30 x 9.28 x 0.75 in, 9 b&w illustrations
In Art Work, Katja Praznik counters the Western understanding of art – as a passion for self-expression and an activity done out of love, without any concern for its financial aspects – and instead builds a case for understanding art as a form of invisible labour. Focusing on the experiences of art workers and the history of labour regulation in the arts in socialist Yugoslavia, Praznik helps elucidate the contradiction at the heart of artistic production and the origins of the mystification of art as labour.
This profoundly interdisciplinary book highlights the Yugoslav socialist model of culture as the blueprint for uncovering the interconnected aesthetic and economic mechanisms at work in the exploitation of artistic labour. It also shows the historical trajectory of how policies toward art and artistic labour changed by the end of the 1980s. Calling for a fundamental rethinking of the assumptions behind Western art and exploitative labour practices across the world, Art Work will be of interest to scholars in East European studies, art theory, and cultural policy, as well as to practicing artists.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Paradoxical Visibility of Yugoslav Art Workers, or Should Artists Strike?
1. The Autonomy of Art and the Emancipation of Labour
2. A Feminist Approach to the Disavowed Economy of Art
3. The Making of Yugoslav Art Workers: Artistic Labour and the Socialist Institution of Art
4. The Mystification of Artistic Labour under Socialism
5. Art Workers and the Hidden Class Conflict of Late Socialism
6. The Contradictions of 1980s Alternative Art
Conclusion: Post-Yugoslav Dispossession and the Contradictions of Artistic Labour after Socialism
"Moving beyond the traditional critique of artistic autonomy, in this brilliant, pathbreaking book, Katja Praznik shows how a feminist critique of unpaid reproductive labour is a vantage point from which to rethink the contradictions and potential of art work both as a terrain of exploitation and as a contributor to radical practice. A must read."Silvia Federici, Professor Emerita of New College, Hofstra University
"Art Work is an important contribution to recent debates among artists, scholars, and activists about the precarity of artistic labour under conditions of neoliberal capitalism. Taking her case studies from the rich history of new artistic practice in the former Yugoslavia, Katja Praznik offers a valuable art historical perspective on issues that are usually claimed by sociologists and economists. Praznik paints Yugoslav self-management not as an alternative to advanced capitalism, but as an integral part of its complex history and as a vantage point from which its contradictions become clearly identifiable."Branislav Jakovljević, Professor and Chair at the Department of Theater and Performance Studies, Stanford University
"In this unique and rich contribution, Katja Praznik foregrounds the centrality of culture and the arts in the economic and political transformations of Yugoslavian society from self-management to the social crisis of late socialism and beyond. Art Work weaves together critical and visual studies, feminism, the political economy of socialism, and art-historical discussions to develop an important and much-needed critique of the mystification of creative labour in socialist societies and its role in the embrace of neoliberal capitalism."Zhivka Valiavicharska, Assistant Professor of Political and Social Theory, Pratt Institute