Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Fine Arts


Visual Arts


Patrick Mahon


My thesis discusses labour from three different historical and theoretical viewpoints, namely Karl Marx’s perspectives on labour, Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Action and Jacques Rancière's radical view of workers as an aspirational class, including how their respective philosophies influenced discourse on labour in contemporary art. To examine the aesthetic consequences of these labour theories, my discussion of each writer is accompanied by a case study of a contemporary artist whose work operates in dialogue with the philosophical ideas presented. In conclusion, I bring these theories together by focusing on how they implicate art making as labour, and I point to my own art practice, which aims to collapse ‘means’ into ‘ends’ as a possible strategy to address some of the issues raised by the theorists I examine.

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