Saturday, February 21, 2009

Excerpts of Kevin Murray lecture on Object of Labor publication

Taken from

Lecture to the Chicago Institute of Art 3 October 2007 as part of a series associated with the Object of Labor publication by Kevin Murray

. . . Rather than learning to make things ourselves, we have taken the ‘smart' option of outsourcing those specialised tasks to a largely invisible working class in Asia.
. . .

What's left to Western countries like Australia and the US are the information industries, such as design, entertainment and business. These enable much greater interconnectivity than the specialisations required in manufacturing. However, this is only possible in the context of a greater global specialisation whereby whole countries are dedicated to particular kinds of production.
. . .

Collaboration does represent an important frontier of craft production, as western artists and designers are increasingly commissioning work from traditional artisans. This genre of world craft certainly has its dangers, as it lends itself to a kind of exoticism that does not seriously value the contribution of makers. However, world craft does have the potential to sustain traditions and cultures. The challenge now is to strengthen this emergent genre with critical examination. To be sustained beyond fashion it needs to deal with the spectres of primitivism and missionary values. If it can proof itself to be a genuinely liberating practice, then world craft augers well for constructive dialogue between first and third worlds. This will not happen spontaneously. It requires much care and critical self-reflection.


  1. in the context of a greater global specialisation whereby whole countries are dedicated to particular kinds of production.

    Developed countries proud voice speaking out loud. Shame! Yes of course choose which side you want to be on. No, I only like the design side or entretainment so we are doing fine, let´s keeep exploiting this and that as they have a cheap labour hand and are very specialized, their crafts are beautiful, have tradition but as colonization mainly almost abolish them well lets use them as our production mode. Yes, whole countries should be considered for this. And this is making the world better? Selfish pride that validates it self on its own. the worst is, that there are supporters, and maybe even government funding. Sad to know that this are the people that have voices.

  2. it is easier always to lend a hand and keep control than give real means in order for people to be independent.