Fundamental Labor



Fundamental Labor



Producer:Sun Yue


Curator:Li Boyan

艺术家:蔡东东,陈思含,郭勇,哈妮斯,Adeline Parrot,寿盛楠,宋楠楠,Nils Weiligmann,姚清妹,张梦,张一鸣

Artists: Cai Dongdong, Chen Sihan, Guo Yong, Ha Nisi, Adeline Parrot, Shou Shengnan, Song Nannan, Nils Weiligmann, Yao Qingmei, Meng, Zhang Yiming

开幕时间/Opening Reception:  2015/5/23, 4pm

展览时间/On View: 5/23 - 5/31

地址:天津市和平区台儿庄路26号(泰安道壹号院 A8) 考拉空间

Address:  Koala Space , No.26, Tai'erzhuang Road,Heping District,Tianjin, China








Before the Industrial Revolution, crafts were still dominating in commodity production. In the Age of Machines, assembly lines replaced human beings, and also generated the knowledge of machines and the appreciation of reproduction. Massive production and manufacturing then largely started to influence the creation and the appreciation of artworks. Ancient time's artwork of originality shifted to today’s artwork of limited production, then shifted to the artwork of massive production. Since then, a fundamental, basic-level and labor consuming of aesthetics emerged for the new way of artwork production. However, in contemporary society, the significance of fundamental labor is always omitted. What is the value of labors today?

In the 20th century, artworks changed from exhibitive to performative in parallel with other commodities, aiming to amuse and attract consumers. The illusion and imagination of performing gave artwork two prominent characters: timeliness and participatory. Through Duchamp’s work, we can see his opposition to a kind of craft, but also his attention to another kind. He utilizes the development of exhibiting and performing to make ready-made artworks. New Realism, Pop Art and Assemblage were all his tools to resume Dada. The intention of using ready-made was to insult classical esthetics. However, Neo-Dada took it in and discovered a new esthetic from it. Duchamp used a bottle rack and a urinal to revolt but received the appreciation of beauty from art critics. Besides there predictable accidents, his success was a result of appreciating craft when selecting ready-made for sure.

The time has passed by, today’s artists are no longer aiming to revolt. But if we see artists as a kind of labor, they should naturally look for freedom. Zizek says, ’The result is not the self-dissolution of capitalism, but the gradual transformation of the profit generated by the exploitation of labor into rent appropriated through the privatization of knowledge.’ This is much simpler than Marx. Marx tries to define the relationship between labor and the socially necessary labor time, which clearly reveal his inclination to bourgeoises. Meanwhile, Marx's theory is not sophisticated and dynamic enough to understand the relationship between commodities and labor. Jean Baudrillard's early critique of Marx also indicates when commercialization reaches a certain level, the major commodities in the market are no longer traditional ones, but ‘visual images’, that is today’s brand.

Branding is another revolt to commodities themselves, and it also manipulates labor’s identity and characteristics. The proletariats are no longer sole labors with nothing but a human body. The value of a commodity is also no longer mere consumption of labor. Thus, a sort of simple and straightforward artworks that does not present the complexity and the intensity of craft appeared like brands. For example, When Lucio Fontana scratched the red canvas, and Duchamp named a spade an artwork, the labor they used was far less from the labor of making that canvas and that spade. However, it is the artists’ names that structured the exhibitions.

A negative effect of this new mode is to accelerate massive productions of artworks. Of course, some artworks vanished more rapidly because of copying or inferior quality, and consequently weakened the prestige of this mode. But the emergence of this mode approves that development would not erase the existence of cultures before the Industrial Revolution and their relevant production modes. It also shows that human beings’ gene of producing exists constantly. This age of massive production would bring this gene back to life. All the negative results would also come to visible gradually.