Biopolitical Follies

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Abstract:

Ina Blom's 2007 book On the Style Site: Art, Sociality, and Media Culture is the most sustained attempt so far to analyse, from the perspective of post-autonomist debates concerning biopolitics and immaterial labour, the work of some of the most prolific international artists to emerge during the 1990s. This article specifies Blom's claims before examining in greater detail the key theoretical assumptions underlying her argument that the ‘style site works’ of Pierre Huyghe, Philippe Parreno, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and others are most attuned to contemporary possibilities for critical practice. Blom's defence of these artists' immanent engagements with spectacle and style, namely the biopolitical mantra that life-time and work-time have become indivisible as a result of the proliferation of media technologies into every corner of contemporary life, is at best parochial and at worst contradictory. Blom's theory rests on the problematic claim that communication and sociality – characterised by plenitude – are today productive of surplus-value, which in the classical Marxian analysis results from the variability of supply, and hence fundamental scarcity, of labour.
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