From Foucault's claim that we are now all entrepreneurs of ourselves to Antonio Negri's (and others') claim that we are now in a moment of the real subsumption of labor to capital, the status of labor has changed. What aesthetic approaches to the status of labor as commodity can we locate at the end of labor, and how does this problem intersect with commodity-art? I suggest that a logic and an aesthetic of decommodification is required in order to continue our conversation about how aesthetics and value are co-constituted in contemporary arts practices; I introduce the artist Caroline Woolard's practice as a site to investigate the problem of artistic labor and aesthetic value in an entrepreneurial age. This essay is divided into two sections. The first offers a possible deduction of decommodification from the theoretical convergence of aesthetics and commodification. I move through the work of Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Theodor Adorno, and contemporary commentators on commodity forms including Silvia Federici. The second considers Woolard's work as an example of how decommodification can help think through art, labor, and entrepreneurship in relationship to the emergent mode of social practice.
Leigh Claire La Berge; Wages against Artwork: The Social Practice of Decommodification. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2015; 114 (3): 571–593. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-3130756
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