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Now, transferred to present-day cultural factories, strike work relates to the sensual dimension of shock.Rather than painting, welding, and molding, artistic strike work consists of ripping, chatting, and posing.
Strike workers churn out feelings, perception, and distinction in all possible sizes and variations.
Intensity or evacuation, sublime or crap, readymade or readymade reality—strike work supplies consumers with all they never knew they wanted.
While the latter manage the transition to post-democracy, the former image it. Nothing but the ways in which contemporary art is implicated in transforming global power patterns.
Contemporary art’s workforce consists largely of people who, despite working constantly, do not correspond to any traditional image of labor.
Contemporary art is no unworldly discipline nestled away in some remote ivory tower.
On the contrary, it is squarely placed in the neoliberal thick of things.We cannot dissociate the hype around contemporary art from the shock policies used to defibrillate slowing economies.Such hype embodies the affective dimension of global economies tied to ponzi schemes, credit addiction, and bygone bull markets.Why and for whom is contemporary art so attractive?One guess: the production of art presents a mirror image of post-democratic forms of hypercapitalism that look set to become the dominant political post-Cold War paradigm.A standard way of relating politics to art assumes that art represents political issues in one way or another.But there is a much more interesting perspective: the politics of the field of art as a place of work. Amongst all other forms of art, fine art has been most closely linked to post-Fordist speculation, with bling, boom, and bust.Free labor and rampant exploitation are the invisible dark matter that keeps the cultural sector going.Free-floating strike workers plus new (and old) elites and oligarchies equal the framework of the contemporary politics of art.The traditional conception of the artist’s role corresponds all too well with the self-image of wannabe autocrats, who see government potentially—and dangerously—as an art form. But the actual production of art is simultaneously a workshop for many of the nouveaux poor, trying their luck as jpeg virtuosos and conceptual impostors, as gallerinas and overdrive content providers.Post-democratic government is very much related to this erratic type of male-genius-artist behavior. Because art also means work, more precisely strike work.