LOVE THY LABOUR 2018
hand silk-screened garments and performance
Kay Abude’s LOVE THY LABOUR explores conceptions and conditions of work. The ongoing project stems from the experiences of the artist and her family. Relocating to Australia from the Philippines in 1986, Abude’s parents moved from white to blue collar jobs. Her mother worked in an electrical factory, supplementing her income by bringing components home that were assembled by members of the family. The artist notes, ‘Working was a way we spent time together and socialised. It’s how I developed fine motor skills at an early age and it sparked my interest in the factory and systems of production.’
Here, Abude has invited staff at Auckland Art Fair to don garments screen-printed with the eponymous exhortation ‘love thy labour’. The artist signals her solidarity with such labourers by working at the Fair as a guide, an outwardly unglamorous but essential role. In the context of the Fair, LOVE THY LABOUR cannot help but draw attention the fact that art-making is often treated as a ‘labour of love’. Abude’s work, however, is not wholly cynical. It reminds us that despite the dissolution of unions, the outsourcing of production to poorer countries, the rise of unpaid internships, and ever present demands on the artist to make without promise of return, many of us not only do what delights us, but would also feel quite lost without our daily grind.