David Graeber — The Sadness of Post-Workerism

or “Art And Immaterial Labour” Conference: A Sort of Review
(Tate Britain, Saturday 19 January, 2008) by David Graeber

On the 19th of January, several of the heavyweights of Italian post-Workerist theory—Toni Negri, Bifo Berardi, Maurizio Lazzarato, and Judith Revel— appeared at the Tate Modern to talk about art. This is a review. Or, it is a review in a certain sense. I want to give an account of what happened. But I also want to talk about why I think what happened was interesting and important. For me at least, this means addressing not only what was said but just as much, perhaps, what wasn’t; and asking questions like “why immaterial labor ?”, and “why did it make sense to all concerned to bring a group of revolutionary theorists over from Italy to talk about art history in the first place?” Asking these questions will allow me to make some much broader points about the nature of art, politics, history, and social theory, which I like to think are at least as interesting and potentially revealing than what happened in the actual debate.

The Sadness of Post-Workerism: full review article

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