In Art Work: Invisible Labour and the Legacy of Yugoslav Socialism (U Toronto Press, 2021), Katja Praznik counters the Western understanding of art – as a passion for self-expression and an activity done out of love – and instead builds a case for understanding art as a form of invisible labour. Focusing on the experiences of art workers and the history of labour regulation in the arts in socialist Yugoslavia, Praznik unpacks the contradiction at the heart of artistic production, and shines a light on how the economic reality of creative work has often been obscured by the mystification of artistic endeavour.
Drawing on Marxist-feminist analysis, the book demonstrates the value of recognising that artistic labour is ultimately a category of work. In this way, Praznik offers a strategic framework for enhancing our understanding of the struggle for equity in the world of institutionalised art production.
Katja Praznik is Associate Professor within the Arts Management Program at the University at Buffalo.
Iva Glisic is a historian and art historian specialising in modern Russia and the Balkans.