In this lecture, American art historian, art critic and curator Amelia Jones looks at art making in the contemporary sphere, in terms of labour and performativity, moving away from strictly Marxist or neo-Marxist theories of labour by focusing on materialities.



Making use of theories of new materialism, thing theory, and phenomenology, Jones explores the work of artists such as Heather Cassils, Juliana Cerqueira Leite, Barbara Smith and William Anastasi. Digging deep into the materialities of the works to engage with signs of their ‘having been made’, the lecture will go on to make a larger argument proposing new ways of approaching contemporary art that are, rather than abstracted or theoretical (as is often the case when issues of artistic labour are being addressed), materialised and materialising.

This Power Lecture took place on 2 June 2015 as part of the Sydney Ideas program at the University of Sydney.



Amelia Jones is Robert A. Day Professor of Art and Design and Vice Dean of Critical Studies at the USC Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California. Jones is known as a feminist art historian, a scholar of performance studies, and a curator. Dr Jones previously taught at McGill University (Montreal), University of Manchester (UK) and University of California, Riverside. Her recent publications include major essays on Marina Abramović (in TDR: The Drama Review), and books and essays on feminist art and curating (including the edited volume, The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, new edition 2010) and performance art histories.

Her book Self/Image: Technology, Representation, and the Contemporary Subject (2006) was followed in 2012 by Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification and the Visual Arts, and her major volume Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History, co-edited with Adrian Heathfield. Her exhibition Material Traces: Time and the Gesture in Contemporary Art took place in 2013 in Montreal, and her edited volume Sexuality was released in 2014 in the Whitechapel Documents series. Her new projects address the confluence of ‘queer’, ‘feminist’, and ‘performance’ in relation to the visual arts.