The artist may be one of the last subject-positions within capitalism to determine their own labour under the sign of “creativity,” and to be held at an oblique angle to value productive labour; they are dialectically “free” to be creative (Adorno, Vishmidt, Stakemeir, Beech). But since 1973 if not 1915, artists mark this creative capacity as a process whereby reification has migrated from that of the object to that of the subject, to the artist-subject, now heightened in a post-industrial era of “feminized” and immaterial labour where service eclipses production. Artists in the “post medium condition” elaborate practices that track parallel to the service economy and yet continue to be mythologized as agents capable of delivering exceptional experience, an experience institutionally deemed to be specialized and singular.
Artist Santiago Sierra mobilizes and elaborates delegated performance art with avowed and explicit reflexive cruelty to raise the contradiction inherent in the expectation of exceptional content delivered by free and creative agents to query the question of collective agency in instances where persons are expelled by the labour market in relation to state status. 33 Persons Paid to Have their Hair Dyed Blonde from 2001 dramatizes not only the global class war inherent in racialized stateless surplus populations in the context of collapsing social contracts set by the Keynesian state and operative from the 1930s to but the degree to which these populations come to be seen as less-than-human, as less than bearers of labor-power, but as disposable.
"Readymade or Made [to be] Ready, Replicant or Surplus: Social Reproduction and the Biopolitics of Abstraction Prefigured in Contemporary Art."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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