[-empyre-] Week 1 | Social Practice and Social Reproduction

kyle mckinley bicirider at gmail.com
Tue May 3 03:45:42 AEST 2016

Week 1 | Social Practice and Social Reproduction

This week's invited guests are Dont Rhine and Cara Michelle Baldwin. We’ll
be kicking off this month’s discussion of social practice with some open
questions about what is meant by “social practice” and by suggesting,
implicitly, that there are important connections between critiques of
socially practiced art and critiques of social reproduction.

Beginning from their experience of feminist struggle in the Wages for
Housework movements of the 1970s, Marxist-feminists such as Mariarosa Dalla
Costa, Silvia Federici, Lise Vogel, and Selma James have sought to place
social reproduction at the center of a Marxist analysis capable of
providing an account of our contemporary moment. Building upon Marx’s
observation that the generalization of the capacity for labor-power as a
commodity is what is unique to Capitalism, theories of social reproduction
add that the variety of feminized tasks necessary for reproducing that
capacity for labor power – from child-bearing and cooking to listening and
sex-work – constitute women as the un-waged workers upon which Capital is
most dependent. As Silvia Federici points out in “Wages against Housework,”
“Capital has been very successful in hiding our work... by denying
housework a wage and transforming it into an act of love.” When applied
beyond the confines of the household, the critique of social reproduction
thus trains one to be highly suspicious of a wide array of unpaid tasks
that appear as labors of love— including the love many of us have for our
labors as practitioners of, and participants in, socially practiced artwork.

Recent noteworthy contributions to critiques of social reproduction include
Maya Andrea Gonzalez’s essay “THE LOGIC OF GENDER: On the separation of
spheres and the process of abjection” in *END NOTES 3: Gender, Race, Class,
and Other Misfortunes* (
https://endnotes.org.uk/en/endnotes-the-logic-of-gender) as well as an
entire issue of *Viewpoint Magazine* dedicated to the subject (
https://viewpointmag.com/2015/11/02/issue-5-social-reproduction/). Arts
practitioners and theorists of social practice may take heart from
Gonzalez’s analysis of the instability of waged/unwaged // public/private
// male/female binaries as supporting lessons learned from the long
feminist trajectory of performance art and institutional critique. At the
same time, such an analysis likely provokes crises in the increasingly
rigid and seemingly stable manner in which “Social Practice” addresses
participants, participants, and institutions.

Our guests this week come to the discussion with extensive backgrounds at
the intersections of theory and practice, both inside and outside the
academy. I look forward to encountering their thoughts on these questions,
loosely defined, as well as contributions from Empyre’s network of

in cahoots,
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