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Art and Emotional Labour


Artworks are often analysed through the lenses of prevailing art historical or cultural discourses, mediums and techniques, and the themes and narratives they challenge or convey. Rarely do studies delve into the emotional labour invested by artists in their creations. In sociological circles, emotional labour has been described as the management of feelings and expressions to meet the emotional demands of a job. In the realm of artistic practice, creative emotional labour can refer to the hidden, internal and psychological efforts necessary to produce something new, or to navigate in a society that often prioritises the unspoken, sometimes at the cost of personal agency.

Emotional labour can also be viewed as a driving force in socially-engaged art, where artists use social relationships and structures as the focal point of their work.

The exhibition delves into the possibilities of viewing emotion as a creative force in art-making. By reevaluating how artworks can emerge from the intricate relationship between task and temperament, we may begin to see how emotion – muted, subtle or overt – can challenge preconceptions about artistic expression, identity, intimacy, as well as the profound impact of history.

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