The Artworld Economy: Free Labour, Use Value and Mass Poverty


The contemporary art world relies extensively upon free and underpaid labour. ‘Entrepreneurship’ has become the watchword as recent graduates move from voluntary position to internship while the vast majority of artists and entry-level arts professionals, including curators and educators, receive shockingly low recompense for their work – when, that is, they are not forced to ‘freelance’ and be ‘creative’ as public funding for the creation of jobs dwindles. This public debate addresses the ideological context and material impact of these tendencies, situating them in relation to broader transformations in the nature of contemporary work.  When the desire for a life of non-alienated labour demands instead self-exploitation and perpetuates competition among workers for the few sources of income available, what can collective action look like and does it hold any potential?


The event includes theoretical analyses by Kate Oakley, Professor of Cultural Policy at Leeds, Alex Law, Professor of Sociology at Abertay, Gregory Sholette, artist and author of Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture.  A series of case studies presented by Emma Balkind (PhD researcher, The Glasgow School of Art) and Ainslie Roddick (Co-Director of The Duchy gallery and Programme Coordinator CCA) will ground the discussions.


Presented in partnership with the Scottish Contemporary Art Network