Labours of Love: A Conversation on Art, Gender, and Social Reproduction

Child, Danielle; Reckitt, Helena and Richards, Jenny. 2017. Labours of Love: A Conversation on Art, Gender, and Social Reproduction. Third Text, 31(1), pp. 147-168. ISSN 0952-8822 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Taking the form of a discussion among an art historian, a curator and an artist, the article explores the assumption that it is love, rather than material gain, that motivates art and cultural workers. Addressing the internalisation of the ideology that one loves one's labour, the interlocutors consider the gendered and class conditions of work in the cultural and academic sectors. Reading ‘theory’ against ‘practice’, they reflect on their own work experiences and upbringings, their curatorial research, and their readings of feminist and Marxist theories of artistic and feminised labour. The discussion considers how the precarious conditions of cultural labour today divide and isolate workers, immersing them in antagonism and competition, and how reflections within feminist art history and theory have possibly downplayed the ongoing (rather than historical) importance of class as well as reproductive labour. Highlighting the dangers of over-identifying with work, the three contributors consider the potential of dis-identifying from work roles and from institutional conventions as one strategy that can potentially challenge the exploitation of the self as well as others. The article concludes with a consideration of how ‘labours of love’ might be collectively revalued and prioritised.

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published in a special issue on Social Reproduction & Art, edited by by Angela Dimitrakaki and Kirsten Lloyd


Danielle Child, Helena Reckitt, Jenny Richards, academic labour, cultural labour, social reproduction, Feminist art, Feminist Art History, labours of love, Manual Labours, Now You Can Go

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14 January 2017Accepted
8 September 2017Published

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26 Sep 2017 09:42

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:35

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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