Lately, I have been working with the term “embodied labour”. I build on the work of those who foreground art as labour, the artist as art worker, shedding light on the conditions, relations, physical work, preparations, and care required to sustain this work. In Art work: Invisible Labour and the Legacy of Yugoslav Socialism, Praznik (2021) shows how society’s glorification of art, renders artistic work as non-labour and neglects the conditions in which this art is produced, which contributes to the exploitative systemic structures on which these conditions rely (leading to e.g., underpayment of the artist and/or payment based on outcome, instead of labour).
Rahima Gambo’s and Innocent Ekejiuba’s work called Tired Nigerian Artist (2021) is an example of articulating embodied labour. Through interviews with different Nigerian art workers, published as podcasts and guide-books, they produced A Guide for Rest, that visualizes the practices of self-care these workers depend upon within the context and conditions of the Nigerian society and artworld, including practices such as reading feminist literature and making art that de-centres the privileged gaze (these are practices proposed by artist Olatunde Alara), or becoming financially literate and improving interpersonal skills (proposed by artist Amanda Iheme).
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