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Art and Postcapitalism: Aesthetic Labour, Automation and Value Production


As the COVID-19 pandemic caused Australian theatres, music venues, galleries and museums to close, the Federal Government’s response to the ensuing crisis raised the question of whether they view the arts as surplus to the economy. Government stimulus for the sector, both meagre and delayed, is unlikely to hinder the ongoing destruction of careers, infrastructure and crucial projects. Once again, various artists, arts collectives and arts institutions were required to make a case for art’s worth, and to counter the notion that Australians are content to import their culture from Universal Studios and Activision. As Justin Clemens put it, under the Federal (Liberal-National Party) Government there has been an acceleration of art’s ‘total absorption, collapse or abandonment’, which sees it subordinated to ‘a generalised entertainment whose paradigm is sports or, alternatively, the new media empires that are Netflix or Disney or Stan’.1 But if one of the preconditions for art’s abandonment as surplus to requirements is its reduction to the status of commodity, something you get at the ‘drugstore’ or via a streaming platform, it was noteworthy that so many defenders of art looked to reframe it in terms of another kind of surplus — that is, as a commodity that can produce surplus value. As various academics and commentators have noted, the Australian arts sector contributes $111.7 billion to the Australian economy.2 While statements of art’s intrinsic value could be found during the initial fallout of the pandemic, the reminder of art’s economic value was never far behind.

Looking at the last decade of contemporary art exhibitions and art publications, it is clear that the rhetorical framing of art as a site of commodity production is inseparable from a broader interest in approaching artistic activity in terms of waged-work, career and productivity. On the one hand, the decentralisation and casualisation of work, often associated with the term neoliberalism, has sparked a cultural obsession with entrepreneurialism, and this obsession has been in turn examined and critiqued by artists. Accordingly, to understand the challenges artists and arts workers face, it must be recognised that any distinction between work and life (or passion, or leisure) has long been abandoned. The Kantian separation between work and pleasure, in which art is characterised as ‘free in the sense of not being a mercenary occupation and hence a kind of labour’, has lost all relevance.3 On the other hand, some artists and theorists have turned to artistic activity as a way of imagining a post-capitalist mode of production — a systemic form of production independent of the logic of accumulation, control and standardisation. From both perspectives, the artists and arts workers have been placed squarely in view.

Here, the terms ‘artist’ and ‘arts worker’ are used in tandem to acknowledge and determine the types of labour (creative, administrative, emotional) contributed to organisations, projects, relationships, communities and more. While the varied contributions of artists and arts workers to arts ecologies should not be conflated, their similarities point towards the dexterity and flexibility demanded of both. It is not uncommon for artists and arts workers to assume the roles of writer, curator, academic, sessional lecturer, activist, historian, board member, publisher and much more (sometimes all at once). The term arts worker is often used in an anxious attempt to encapsulate the varied forms of labour contributed to the sector, while declaring a commitment to professional malleability. The term artist has also undergone re-definition over the last ten years through what Tara McDowell describes as the parasitic phenomenon of ‘artist-as’, which has led to artists taking on many of the roles outlined above.4 This splintering of roles leads to exploitation, where appropriate remuneration for discrete strands of work often gets forgotten. Coupled with incessant cuts to and increased competition for visual arts funding in Australia, Attwood and Russell claim that the contemporary artist must validate themselves ‘by functioning, albeit unconsciously, as a means of softening the blow of economic austerity’ which might otherwise be more sharply felt by a range of public institutions.5

What’s more, the ongoing impact of colonisation and racial discrimination in Australia, particularly experienced by many First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse artists and arts workers, means that they contribute even greater work — often unpaid, emotional labour — in holding organisations accountable, maintaining online and in-person activism and rehashing demands for ‘diversity’. As such, artists and arts workers have become archetypes for the precarious worker, working more for less and exemplifying optimisation and upskilling as a means to survive. Precariousness characterises the type of work demanded of artists and arts workers who largely engage in freelance, contracted or casualised labour that is systematically under- or unpaid. Periods of contracted employment are substituted by periods of unemployment, leading many arts professionals to seek work outside of the arts sector in an effort to secure financial stability. All the while artistic practice remains largely silent work, often undertaken in home studios, at nights or after paid jobs.

For these reasons, Dave Beech’s Art and Postcapitalism: Aesthetic Labour, Automation and Value Production (2015) sits at a juncture connecting the timely and the trite. Indeed, an intervention into ongoing debates around art and postcapitalism feels both necessary and fashionable, and alongside many projects today Beech’s book could be viewed as either urgent or worn out. However, Beech’s text is not a romantic defence of art, a manifesto against the contemporary culture of philistinism, or simply another book explaining how things got so bad. Instead, Art and Postcapitalism is an attempt to intervene in a range of debates surrounding art and capitalism so as to extend their critical relevance. Reading Beech’s book during the 2020 phase of the pandemic, a central question presented itself: without retreating to nostalgia, how do we affirm a surplus inimical to art that is neither the surplus of superfluity nor the surplus of surplus value?


In Chapter Three, ‘Artists and the Politics of Work,’ Beech provocatively addresses the comparison of the artist to the waged worker, a comparison that today drives a demand for wages for artistic work from artists, advocacy groups and arts organisations worldwide. In attempting to locate the demand for the artist’s wage politically, Beech questions whether the demand corrupts the potentially non-capitalist haven of creative labour by further entrenching artistic work within the capitalist mode of production, or whether the demand is in fact ‘designed specifically to negate the relationship between wage labour and value production without which capitalism would grind to a halt’.6 It is the latter possibility that Beech addresses using value theory, where in his reading, ‘artworks have no value because they are not produced by productive labour’.7

To set this up, Beech provides an overview of his reading of Marx’s account of productive and unproductive labour. For Beech, all waged labour can be categorised as either productive or unproductive, depending on whether the wage comes from capital or revenue: ‘the difference being that capital is advanced with the expectation of an augmented return’.8 For productive labour, the wage comes from capital and as such produces value ‘i.e., profit—whereas revenue is expenditure without return’.9 Beech turns to the work of Michael Heinrich to further illustrate this point. For Heinrich, the labour of a pizzaiolo working in a restaurant making pizzas for paying customers is productive — their pizzas are commodities, their labour produces surplus value.10 The labour of the pizzaiolo hired to work as a personal chef in a household, making pizzas for the occupants of that household, is unproductive. Their pizzas have use-value (as food) but are not commodities (the capitalist eats them and therefore takes their value out of circulation) and as such their labour does not produce surplus value (the pizzas cannot be converted into money which can be invested back into circulation). What is determinant here is not the concrete character of the labour performed (‘skilled or unskilled’, ‘manual’ or ‘intellectual’) nor the simple fact that the work is paid, but ‘whether they [the workers] produce value for a capitalist employer who obtains a return on capital rather than the expenditure of revenue’.11

While we might assume that any artwork bought or sold must be a commodity, Beech maintains in another text that ‘if we are to address the question of whether an artwork is a commodity or an asset, or a product independent of commodity production, then we need to examine its mode of production, not its patterns of consumption’.12 This is not to say that, in the concrete circumstance of the existing global economy, production and circulation can be separated. Rather, Beech’s emphasis on production attempts to bring into focus the question of whether labour is purchased for the purpose of producing surplus value, or whether the labour is purchased to increase the material wealth of the purchaser. It is by pursuing this question, Beech contends, that we can rethink the artwork’s relationship to commodity production.

In discussing forms of payment for artistic work, such as a government grant or commission fee, the term ‘wage’ is often used as a vague catch-all. Similar to the common interchangeability of the terms ‘work’ and ‘labour’ across local artistic discourse as mentioned above, the baggy use of the term ‘wage’ in this arena is, for Beech, obfuscating. Beech reminds us that within the capitalist mode of production, the payer of the wage is in a position of authority that affords them the power to make demands of the payee. Widespread skepticism across the arts of the involvement of funding bodies in the ‘artistic process’— that is, what is produced and for what reason — is evidence for Beech that the artist-as-worker must be understood as a rhetorical figure. Put differently, Beech feels that the claim that artists are already workers, albeit workers whose function as commodity producers is underappreciated in contemporary culture, misses something vital about art as a site of non-capitalist production. While at the point of realisation the artist might be as exploited as any other individual in a capitalist society — experiencing high rental fees, large medical bills, large education costs, etc. — at the point of production they are not constrained by the imperative to produce work in line with socially necessary labour time. While the barista, cleaner, shelf-stacker or truck driver must maintain a minimum level of productivity within a set time — otherwise they become useless to the capitalist as a worker — Beech’s argument raises the question of whether such a notion of socially necessary labour time can be applied to the artist. Indeed, some works of art take years to produce, while others can be just as lucrative, if not more so, and only take days or hours to produce.

On the one hand, Beech’s intervention is useful insofar as it helps to counter an all-too-common pessimism that surrounds artistic activity and the figure of the artist. While it is conventional to discuss art as entirely subsumed within capitalism, there is something invigorating about Beech’s argument that art offers a mode of production irreducible to the standardisation and managerial control of the prevailing mode of production. As he puts it,

one of the main reasons why art plays a negligible role within postcapitalist theory today is because the artist no longer appears as exemplary of an exceptional type of nonalienated labour but has come to signify the typical worker of post-Fordism.13

Refreshingly, Beech is able to reframe artistic activity without relying on a conservative or moralistic discourse that might separate art from commodity production, but only on the grounds that art is somehow inherently purer or more important than the commodity. Despite this, and on the other hand, it is at times difficult to separate Beech from another kind of moralism, one that casts the artist as entitled and self-serving. Relative to the ambiguity around whether artistic labour is, for artist-as-worker advocates, productive or unproductive, Beech reveals what he sees as the underlying agenda of the artist-as-worker position:

While the artist’s wage appears to affiliate the artist with the worker, it is more accurately understood … as an expression of entitlement and privilege — a demand for a proportion of the common wealth justified by the status of art — rather than a cancellation of the division between the artist and the working class. In this context, the argument that the artist is a worker has acted as the perfect alibi for the amplification of the real social division between the artist and the wage labourer insofar as the artist aims to secure an increase in resources and social esteem. This is why we need to ask whether the demand for income for artists uses the social esteem of art to redistribute public funds to artists.14

While clearly critical of the comparison of the artist to the waged worker, Beech is not endorsing an idealisation of the artist as a non-worker, or even non-alienated labourer, nor is his position informed by some romantic notion of the concrete labour that the artist performs (as in ‘self-realising handicraft production’) that would distinguish them from the waged labourer. Further still, Beech is not simply saying that artistic labour is undeserving of payment (quite the opposite), but rather that the task is to recognise the spectrum of social forms of labour and, more accurately, locate the artist within it. Nevertheless, even if one were to entirely agree with Beech’s analysis, on the question of strategy it becomes difficult to reconcile his rejection of the demand for a wage for artists with the necessity of the production of a properly political, if not revolutionary, perspective. Put differently, Beech seems to be both aware and unaware that the artist’s demand for a wage is rhetorical. While he is correct to state that ‘the demand for wages for artists has never been a demand for artists to become wage labourers, nor that it constituted a demand for the proletarianisation of artists’15 it is odd that Beech is unwilling to rethink the function of such a demand.

To clarify this problem, we can turn to Beech’s discussion of the demand for ‘wages for housework’. For Beech, while housework is useful and necessary, it is not technically productive under capitalism: it does not produce surplus value. Here, Beech draws on feminist Irene Bruegel’s criticism of the ‘Wages for Housework’ movement, writing that ‘[w]ages for housework within capitalism … would mean an expansion of capital’s control and domination’.16 From this, Beech contends that the pursuit of a wage for housework would have been better directed to the abolition of the wage relation itself. The issue then is not whether housework or artistic work are forms of labour that deserve payment, but rather the implications of this payment taking the form of a ‘wage’ and the reinforcement of capitalist social relations and modes of production that the wage invokes: ‘when artists have campaigned for a wage, they have done so without demanding at the same time, that artistic production should be subject to the interference of employers and overseers, of course’.17

There is no mention here, however, of the possibility that the demand for ‘wages for housework’ or the demand for a wage for artists ‘could function as a force of demystification, an instrument of denaturalisation, and a tool of cognitive mapping,’ as Kathi Weeks puts it.18 The impossibility of the demand for a wage for housework or for artistic activity does not preclude its functioning as a strategy for expanding a political perspective on prevailing social relations of exploitation and oppression. Furthermore, and against Beech, an understanding that certain forms of artistic activity are irreducible to the commodity form — and thereby help to reveal the existence of non-capitalist production within capitalism — is not incompatible with the strategic framing of the artist as worker. The artist’s demand should not be so hastily read as a cipher that uncovers a desire for greater resources and social esteem at the expense of the worker.


Beech takes issue with Maurizio Lazzarato’s laziness. In particular, Beech seems to hold Lazzarato’s attempt to rehabilitate and reappraise laziness in low esteem. He doesn’t think that Lazzarato is work-shy, or that his argument suffers from lassitude. Instead, Beech seems to take issue with laziness as a political logic and as a poetics. As a logic, Beech claims that laziness emphasises individual acts of refusal that are problematically attached to an aristocratic work-phobia (especially to manual work).

To elaborate, let’s begin with poetics. As an intervention at the level of language, Beech finds little in laziness to challenge dominant and ideological notions regarding work. He acknowledges that laziness is not mere inaction or sloth, but the attempt to include within laziness some surplus, alterity or excess is to push the term to its rhetorical and conceptual limits — and perhaps to push it beyond its usefulness or expressiveness. As Beech puts it, laziness, in Lazzarato’s work, gestures towards something like ‘a strenuous laziness or a taxing laziness.19 On the one hand, laziness cannot be reduced to mere inactivity but, on the other hand, laziness is meant to signal some point of difference from the vocabulary of work. Accordingly, Beech holds that laziness can be made more or less synonymous with the aristocratic and individualistic affirmation of leisure and the refusal of drudgery. What else can sit — or should we say lounge — between work and not-work, other than leisure? For Beech, Lazzarato’s use of Duchamp as an exemplar of anti-work praxis ‘redirects the politics of anti- work away from the collective struggle against capital towards the individual’s lines of flight from the workplace’ insofar as ‘Duchamp’s challenge to capitalism is strictly limited to the level of the individual non-conformist, the fortunate soul who escapes from the system or enjoys certain privileges within it’.20

It is worth pausing over Lazzarato’s use of the term ‘laziness’ as opposed to possible substitutions: relaxation, slowness, tranquility. Arguably, the latter terms are entirely compatible with the bourgeois affirmation of Hard Yakka®. As Theodor Adorno indicated, ‘free-time’ and ‘leisure’ are ‘shackled to [their] opposite’.21 Resting, recuperating, restoring, reviving — all such notions of leisure find themselves inscribed within the logics of work and production. Laziness signals both a departure from the aesthetics of work and accepted notions of the social reproduction necessary for future work. The diligent worker or student rests in order to be ready for the next day’s challenges, the lazy make excuses, procrastinate, take shortcuts, shirk duties and give up. Who could maintain bourgeois respectability while referring to themselves as lazy? Beech appears to confuse Lazzarato for Alain de Botton. As a poetic intervention, laziness signals at least a lack of interest in the instrumentalisation of art for productive ends. Indeed, it would seem that an affirmation of laziness would require an almost complete rejection of the bourgeois moral imaginary.

Beyond the poetic, we can read Beech as rejecting laziness as a political logic. Given that Lazzarato defines the ‘lazy technique’ — with the readymade as a key example — as a ‘technique of the mind’ and as ‘a technique of both desubjectivation and new subjectivation’,22 and given that Lazzarato defines the readymade as a lazy technique involving ‘no virtuosity, no special know-how, no productive activity, and no manual labour [our emphasis]’,23 Beech takes Lazzarato as positioning laziness against blue collar work. In Beech’s account, the disavowed content of Lazzarato’s critique is drudgery, dreary standardised manual work, and not the creative intellectual work of the philosopher-sociologist-anthropologist. For Beech, simply put, ‘[Lazzarato] does not include intellectual work as work’ and this is purportedly how Lazzarato avoids the contradiction of decrying work while also engaging in the work of writing a short book, since ‘[Lazzarato] sits on the privileged side of the division between manual and intellectual labour, as well as confirming the norms associated with it’.24 However, this discussion by Lazzarato of ‘lazy technique’ and processes of ‘subjectivation’ are misinterpreted by Beech when they are assigned to the sphere of ‘intellectual work’. This is perhaps best explained by the fact that Beech limits himself to the pamphlet Marcel Duchamp and the Refusal of Work (2014) — a succinct text that draws on Lazzarato’s more substantial writings, such as The Making of the Indebted Man (2012). But as Lazzarato has argued in texts like ‘Immaterial Labour’,

manual labour is increasingly coming to involve procedures that could be defined as ‘intellectual,’ and the new communications technologies increasingly require subjectivities that are rich in knowledge. It is not simply that intellectual labour has become subjected to the norms of capitalist production. What has happened is that a new ‘mass intellectuality’ has come into being, created out of a combination of the demands of capitalist production and the forms of ‘self-valorisation’ that the struggle against work has produced.25

Indeed, both at the level of production and social reproduction, a range of cognitive tasks are required by the worker. Heike Geissler’s Seasonal Associate (2014) provides us with a recent artistic investigation of the algorithmic governance of the modern workplace, in which labour is repetitive and straining and where one must ‘always pay attention to the computer, which tells you what to do and what everything’s name is’.26 Exposed both to the physical demands of manual work and constant digital mediation, the workers of the fulfilment centre are just one example of the immaterial labour Lazzarato invokes. Beginning from the other perspective, labour process theorists have long argued that ‘intellectual labour’ has been increasingly subjected to the norms of standardisation and centralised control. As Harry Braverman argued in the 1970s,

mental processes are rendered repetitious and routine, or they are reduced to so small a factor in the work process that the speed and dexterity with which the manual portion of the operation can be performed dominates the labour process as a whole […] For this reason, the traditional distinctions between ‘manual’ and ‘white-collar’ labour, which are so thoughtlessly and widely used in the literature on this subject, represent echoes of a past situation which has virtually ceased to have meaning in the modern world of work.27

Nevertheless, Beech insists that Lazzarato’s celebration of Duchamp as the lazy artist par excellence reveals his commitment to the privileged and rare individual experience of the escape from work. One reading of the Duchampian project would be to see the readymade as entailing the relocation of art within the gesture of indicating an object and nominating it as art. As Beech argues, this interpretation of Duchamp misses an argument made by feminists for some time now, insofar as the ‘workless’ gesture of indicating and nominating overlooks the reproductive and maintenance work that is necessary for such indication and nomination to occur28 — here, of course, the counterpoint to Duchamp’s sovereign immateriality would be the immateriality (although this surely is no longer the right word) of an artist like Mierle Laderman Ukeles.

However, Beech’s critique of Duchamp rests precariously on this reading of the readymade. Helen Molesworth offers an alternate reading of Duchamp, emphasising the connection between the readymade and the then-emerging Taylorisation of domestic spaces. As Molesworth notes, readymades were all ‘mundane objects of everyday life […] bound together by the process of maintenance. They are objects for cleaning, hanging, storing, drying, preening, and peeing: objects whose purpose is to aid in self-presentation, objects that allow homes and offices to function’.29 Though the complexity of her argument cannot be rehearsed here, it is vital to read Lazzarato’s Duchamp essay by way of Molesworth, insofar as she makes clear — and in stark opposition to Beech’s reading of laziness as a synonym for leisure or the mere suspension of work — that ‘in the end, the readymades propose a space filled with neither work nor leisure; instead, they offer a kind of laziness. Characteristic of the readymades’ complex relation to both work and leisure, laziness operates as a third term, triangulating work and leisure, offering a criticism of both’.30


If Beech is pessimistic about the figure of the artist-as-worker, and the logic of laziness in the struggle against work, can we find a positive program in Art and Postcapitalism? Indeed, while Beech is unequivocal about the need to reject ‘capital accumulation as the rationale for living’, less clear is the site of struggle in which artists should situate themselves.31 In a sense, Beech’s work implies that art is inherently political, insofar as ‘art is aligned with every noncapitalist activity and every subordinate mode of production (including every clash within capitalist activity itself between use value and exchange value) in a hostility to capitalism’.32 Nevertheless, it is difficult to imagine Beech’s position being that of limiting art to a conceptual bulwark against the encroachment of economistic thinking. Even if Beech’s project in Art and Postcapitalism is more or less restricted to a reassessment of the contemporary notions that artworks are commodities and that artists are post-Fordist workers par excellence, the question remains open as to whether we can read in this text a marginalised account of the artist as political subject. In order to pursue this possibility, in this concluding section we want to focus on the final chapter of Beech’s text, in which he discusses digital technologies and their role in the exploitation of the artist by the rentier class.

Aside from the question of whether or not artists are workers, and whether or not it is strategic to demand a wage for artistic activity, artists, and the collectives of readers, viewers and thinkers who relationally constitute artworks, are targeted by ever-increasing forms of rent extraction. Through educational institutions, landlords and the owners of intellectual property, artists must pay increasing amounts of rent in order to gain temporary access to the commons. It is tempting to view the expansion of digital platforms into nearly all aspects of life as further evidence of the commodification of art, education and knowledge. But what if these digital platforms do not function at all like sites of commodity production? What if the ‘factories’ of the ‘attention economy’ were instead more like watermills of feudal Europe? This is Jodi Dean’s argument in a recent essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books:

[D]igital platforms are the new watermills, their billionaire owners the new lords, and their thousands of workers and billions of users the new peasants. Technology companies employ a relatively small percentage of the workforce, but their effects have been tremendous, remaking entire industries around the acquisition, mining, and deployment of data. The smaller workforces are indicative of digital technology’s neofeudalizing tendency. Capital accumulation occurs less through commodity production and wage labor than through services, rents, licenses, fees, work done for free (often under the masquerade of participation), and data treated as a natural resource.33

While the invocation of feudalism might seem ridiculous given the technologically advanced character of contemporary liberal democracies, the monopolistic power of digital platforms such as Apple, Google and Facebook resonates with the political economies of pre-bourgeois societies. As the sociologist Sighard Neckel puts it, albeit in reference to the notion of ‘refeudalisation’ rather than ‘neofeudalisation’, today’s digital platforms ‘are telling examples of how the originally “modern” dispersed network structure of the internet has been absorbed into the private empires of digital media power. Facebook, for example, is used by 1.4 billion people across the world but is controlled by one single individual’.34 Beyond monopolistic ownership, contemporary media platforms require enormous amounts of unpaid work — or unproductive labour, to return to the Marxian terminology utilised earlier — whether in the form of work performed by users of such platforms (generating posts to attract attention to Facebook, for example) or in the form of unpaid internships.

Although Beech does not engage in discussions of ‘neofeudalisation’ or ‘refeudalisation’, there are clear parallels with his own critique of digital platforms. While the users and producers associated with these platforms are undoubtedly exploited, Beech does not see them as producing surplus value, nor as being exploited in the same manner of the capitalist proletariat:

[W]hat I want to suggest, rather, is that the analysis of the relationship between the internet and capitalism recognises a heterogeneous lattice of productive, unproductive and useful labour. Since the profits of web tech capitalism are a share of the surplus value of industrial capital diverted to them through advertising budgets, no new value is added in the distributional circuits of social media.35

Potentially, Beech’s argument in Art and Postcapitalism leads us to a discussion of the possibility of artists resisting the various forms of rent extraction they are subject to. Against the debt incurred to gain access to education, against the impoverishment produced through skyrocketing rents, against the injunction to work for free in order to gain ‘experience’, artists can organise. Importantly, this would not involve a demand to be recognised as workers nor a demand for a wage for artists. Instead, it would be a demand for the reassertion of the commons. However, at this juncture we must acknowledge two complications, complications that will conclude this article (perhaps anticlimactically):


Any struggle by artists against rent extraction would need to ally itself with broader struggles at the level of production. In some ways, the points of convergence are clear — for instance, the cost of rent affects artists as much as it affects nurses or bus drivers — but in others there runs the risk of such artist resistance being framed as exactly the kind of entitled or privileged attitude Beech critiques — e.g., the demand for free higher education must be connected to struggles around improving access to education at a primary and secondary level, lest such a demand alienate communities in which university education is not necessarily a priority. Put differently, an alliance of struggles at the level of production and realisation would be fragile, and as David Harvey notes, struggles at the point of realisation do not necessarily have a class character — that is to say, the demands of ‘consumers’ to be less exploited by monopolistic owners does not automatically help those struggling at the point of production.36 Accordingly, the political position we have attempted to map for the artist — one that avoids Beech’s critique of the false equivalence of the artist and worker — potentially rests on uncertain future alliances.


If this is the case, it is worth asking: what strategy is open to the distinct forms of labour — the useful but unproductive labour of artists and the productive (even if useless or damaging) labour of the worker — Beech helps us to categorise? Especially given the relative weakness of Australia’s trade unions, and the broader anti-political tendencies in the demos that have been analysed by contemporary political theorists like Elizabeth Humphrys, it is surely insufficient to simply restate the incommensurability of art and capital, and to await the return of a mass worker’s movement.37 This then raises further questions about Beech’s hostility to the blurring of lines between the rhetorical demand for a wage and the unproductive character of the artist. While it is useful to gain a greater analytical granularity when assessing the forms of labour that comprise capital — so as to keep open artistic production as surplus to the logics of capitalist production — another surplus must be contended with: the excess produced once these various forms of labour blur into a mutual articulation of resistance, and thereby exceed their categorical distinctiveness.

Glōssa is a reading group and collaborative writing project.

1. Justin Clemens, ‘Après moi, le déluge: Artists after Art’, Arena, September 2020, https:// arena.org.au/arena-author/justin- clemens/.

2. Jo Caust, ‘Coronavirus: 3 in 4 Australians employed in the creative and performing arts could lose their jobs’, The Conversation, 29 April 2020, https://theconversa tion.com/coronavirus-3-in-4-austra lians-employed-in-the-creative-and- performing-arts-could-lose-their- jobs-136505; Leya Reid, ‘The arts sector is already suffering. This year’s budget just pours salt on the wound’, The Guardian, 8 October 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/oct/08/the-arts-sector- is-already-suffering-this-years- budget-just-pours-salt-on-the-wound

3. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, Werner S. Pluhar (trans.), Hackett, Indianapolis, 1987, p. 190.

4. Tara McDowell, ‘The Post- Occupational Condition,’ Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, vol. 16, no. 1 (2016): p. 33.

5. David Attwood and Francis Russell, The Art of Laziness: Contemporary Art and Post-Work Politics, A+A Publishing, Melbourne, 2020, p. 6.

6. Dave Beech, Art and Value: Art’s Economic Exceptionalism in Classical, Neoclassical and Marxist Economics, Pluto Press, London, 2019, p. 56.

7. Ibid., p. 56.

8. Ibid., p. 58.

9. Ibid., p. 58.

10. Heinrich quoted in Beech, 2019, p. 59.

11. Ibid., p. 59. 12. Ibid., p. 186.

13. Ibid., p. 8.

14. Ibid., p. 61-62.

15. Ibid., p. 62.

16. Ibid., p. 60.

17. Ibid., p. 62.

18. Kathi Weeks, The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries, Duke University Press, Durham, 2011, p. 129.

19. Beech, Art and Value, p. 79.

20. Ibid.

21. Theodor Adorno, The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture, J.M. Berstein (ed.), Routledge, London, p. 187.

22. Maurizio Lazzarato, Marcel Duchamp and the Refusal of Work, Joshua David Jordan (trans.), Los Angeles, Semiotext(e), 2014, p. 22.

23. Ibid., 19

24. Dave Beech, Art and Postcapitalism: Aesthetic Labour, Automation and Value Production, Pluto Press, London, 2019, p. 80.

25. Maurizio Lazzarato, ‘Immaterial Labour,’ Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics, Paolo Virno & Michael Hardt (eds.), University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota, 2006, p. 134.

26. Heike Geissler, Seasonal Associate, Katy Derbyshire (trans.), Semiotext(e), California, 2018, p. 67.

27. Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capitalism: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century, Monthly Review Press, New York, p. 325-326.

28. Beech, Art and Postcapitalism, p. 81.

29. Helen Molesworth, ‘Work Avoidance: The Everyday Life of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades,’ Art Journal, vol. 57, no. 4 (1998), p. 51.

30. Ibid., p. 59.

31. Beech, Art and Postcapitalism, p. 103.

32. Ibid.

33. Jodi Dean, ‘Neofeudalism: The End of Capitalism?,’ Los Angeles Review of Books, 12 May 2020, https://lareviewofbooks.org/ article/neofeudalism-the-end-of- capitalism/.

34. Sighard Neckel, ‘The refeudalization of modern capitalism,’ Journal of Sociology, vol. 6, no. 3 (2020): p. 475.

35. Beech, Art and Postcapitalism, p. 98.

36. David Harvey, Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason, New York, Oxford University Press, p. 48.

37. Elizabeth Humphreys, Simon Coplan and Luke Mansillo, ‘Anti-Politics in Australia: Hypotheses, Evidence and Trends, Journal of Australian Political Economy, no. 86 (2020): pp. 122–56; Elizabeth Humphreys, ‘We live in anti-political times,’ Overland, 20 May 2019, https://overland. org.au/2019/05/we-live-in-anti- political-times/.

Filed under Article Glōssa