Indifferent Agent: Speculation as a Mode of Production in Art and Capital

Vishmidt, Marina. 2015. Indifferent Agent: Speculation as a Mode of Production in Art and Capital. In: Angela Dimitrakaki and Kirsten Lloyd, eds. ECONOMY: Art, Production and the Subject in the Twenty-First Century. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 9781781381380 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The proposition ‘speculation as a mode of production' is intended to set the terms of an inquiry into how art and of labour start to draw closer together in recent decades, as systems of value become more and more abstract. The relation between art and labour, as two contrary social forms - one predicated on uselessness and the other on a social use-value- undergoes a shift as exchange-value and the immanence of abstract value increasingly determine the conditions of production and experience for both. Here, we need to consider the relationship between an objective logic of speculation and the kinds of subjectivity it produces. The speculative subject, whether of aesthetics or labour-power, is key to understanding how the current model of social reproduction in capitalism – a mode that has been defined in terms of 'fictitious capital' or a 'double decoupling' between labour and capital (Simon 2011: 98) – sees a re-orientation of art and labour away from the discrete terrains set out for them by a previous mode of accumulation. The logic of self-expanding value structural to capitalist accumulation is modified into a worker-facing ideology couched in notions such as 'creativity' or 'human capital', notions which traverse the norms of labour and artistic (non-) labour alike as both are re-crafted in the image of capital, that is, as entrepreneurship, and as forms of activity without content (and thus, without a principal distinction between them) This is the tendency I am designating as 'speculative'.

Item Type:

Book Section


art, value, economy, genmder. labour, globalisation, institutional critique, critical theory, poitical economy,

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


1 April 2015Published
1 June 2014Accepted

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Date Deposited:

15 Jun 2018 10:41

Last Modified:

28 Jul 2021 15:45


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