ART AS WORK: Rules and creative labour

Martin Parker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper uses empirical work on a piece of performance art to think through the relation between 'work' and 'art', and by implication, 'culture' and 'economy'. Beginning with the idea that the intelligibility of both is produced through similar forms of rule following and rule breaking, I suggest that this throws into question the empirical and historical novelty of the idea of the creative worker. As institutionalists have argued, the work of art is produced through its relation to various organizations, just as work organizations rely on creative rule bending and elaboration. Examples of contemporary art are enrolled in the argument along the way in order to suggest that we can find many insights into the nature of work, culture and economy in comparing the practices of artists with the practices of workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-136
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cultural Economy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2013


  • art
  • creative labour
  • galleries
  • rules
  • work

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