The Life of an Artistic Worker

Numerous artists and theorists have already rejected the idea of separating life and art and argued that life itself is an art. Various experiments have attempted to realize this concept in the forms of different media and formats. Then, why do humans, or artistic workers, relentlessly question the possibility of consolidating life and art and the limits of it? The desire to consolidate work and play (art) grows when work becomes a solely painful activity whereas play is isolated from life and becomes excessive kind of pleasure. Interestingly, such desire. Put differently, it means that we all are nostalgic to the time when work and play were inseparable. According to Engels, it is nostalgia towards pasteuric life prior to modernization and industrialization.

Over the last few years, I was fortunate enough to isolate myself in space and time where the self (the individual) was vacated. The experience can be described as sociocultural asylum, or more precisely, exile. During this time, I explored myself and things surrounding me. As my thoughts on the relationships between an individual, an object, and space (in and out of society, including its margins) slowly progressed, I came to acknowledge that they were converging at one point. An artistic worker, his labor, and the product of his labor all demonstrated that “The self is alive”. Thus, labor of an artistic worker is not dead labor, as his life is not a dead life.

An artistic worker’s work and production can be understood in terms of non-materialistic labor and affective labor. I was influenced by Gille Deleuze and Baruch Spinoza’s work on the concept of affection and quality of labor, such as characteristics and effects of products as well as the mode of production of affective labor. Moreover, with regards to affective labor and virtuality of production, I will demonstrate how to use ‘constraints’, which are a strong tool to respond to virtuality in the “workshop of potential painting”, the project that I experimented on virtuality of affective labor and production. During the 1960s, the OuLiPo, the gathering of French mathematicians and writers, created certain structures and patterns in writing to explore potential literature and sought to escape from the authority of traditional literature by experimenting a kind of playful writing under the constraints. Under these constraints, all writers were able to enjoy their writing activity (play) while maintaining productivity.

Following traces of the OuLiPo, I will explain how to use a strong machine (tool) for a play that yields certain products if people create constraints (rules) that can be used by anyone and work (play) under the constraints (rules). I will also move on to prove that the constraints used in the workshop of potential painting are the most effective tools. The constraints lie on the core of my “work-play” movement. Constraints(tools) will work as a strong mechanism to emancipate people who gave up on drawing after being suppressed by the authority of traditional painting or after being told that they did not have “natural gift”.

In Part I, I will elaborate on the artistic worker’s work and life, which comprises his daytime. Then, the artistic worker’s nighttime will be analyzed by looking at his dreams that reflect his world of unconsciousness. Therefore, I define this book to be a social space (ein sozialer Raum) where one can take a comprehensive view on an artistic worker’s life dimensions, piece by piece, over the past five years. Such social space exists for all subjects who lead their own lives. To explore such space is meaningful in that it can lead to the restoration of one’s power in his/her life. We need to understand that our power can either increase or decrease by connecting to some common factors. This book contains personal descriptions following my life’s calling. Through this, I hope to regain my passion. Though I cannot predict where all this is leading me, but I believe that understanding the flow of energy is more important than knowing the destination. We need to fully experience what it means to reproduce life.

The potentiality of affective labor means biopower. Production of life (society), which constructs biopower such as by creation, management, and control of populations, is regarded as paternal power (pátria potestas) that begins from the top by Foucault. This is closely intertwined with sovereign privileges of capitalism, which incorporate the top-down control and management. Here, biopower reflects the bottom-up biopower that is discussed on production and reproduction of society including female care work or artists’ work from the stage when a new relationship is established.