Photographer Terry Richardson works in a digital aesthetic vernacular that looks more to underground hard-core pornography of yesteryear than traditions associated with the institutionalization of erotica, as associated with Playboy. And yet his images, in Kibosh and Terryworld, anticipate the contemporary public recalibration of ideas of intimacy as associated with social media, tally with contested ideas of the sexualization of female empowerment as associated with contested elements of third wave feminism, and can be read as a contemporary phase of Antonio Negri’s theory of art and immaterial labor in their evidencing of the affective labor on the part of the photographer himself. This critical commentary, the first such academic writing on Richardson, explores his work in these contexts and considers Richardson’s return to the figure (over abstraction) as evidencing and exploring of the nature of work, and the nascent eroticization of working relations, under Western neoliberal regimes.
Modeling Affective Labor: On Terry Richardson’s Photography
Benjamin Halligan is the director of the Doctoral College for the University of Wolverhampton. He is the author of Michael Reeves (2003) and Desires for Reality: Radicalism and Revolution in Western European Film (2016), and coeditor of Mark E. Smith and the Fall (2010), Reverberations (2012), Resonances (2013), The Music Documentary (2013), and The Arena Concert (2015).