Emotional Labor

Danielle Durchslag | Michele Jaquis and Jeremy J. Quinn | Jordan Nassar | B. Neimeth | Kaitlynn Redell | Roni Shneior

Platt and Borstein Galleries

August 25-November 1, 2019

Curator: Dr. Rotem Rozental


Opening Reception: August 25, 3pm
Exhibition Walkthrough with B. Neimeth and Michele Jaquis: September 18, 6:30pm

This group exhibition reflects the nuanced, conflicted relationships between what appears on the surface, social expectations and disappointment, and what is forcefully concealed.

The term Emotional Labor was coined by Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild in 1983, referring to the work being done to control one’s emotions, as required by certain professions. Hochschild described a phenomenon that impacts relations of labor, considering service industries in which workers are required to demonstrate different emotions than what they are experiencing. A canonical example is flight attendants, who are required to smile and remain friendly and calm even when facing stressful situations.

In recent years, the term grew in popularity, and its meaning expanded and morphed, transitioning from the workplace and paid labor to the domestic sphere.[1] Emotional Labor, in its current use, reflects the unpaid, unseen work invested in the division of housework, in the management of life and emotions, denoting the time and energies devoted to control the inner flows and tribulations of domesticity. Various writers and researchers apply this term to discuss the societal responsibilities placed upon women, who are still required to maintain a flawless flow of households, careers, physiques. Such pressures heighten, of course, in the age of Instagrammable existence.

In 2018, Hochschild told Julie Beck of The Atlantic she is “horrified” by this shift of meanings, and the ways in which the term has become “blurry and over-applied,” referring a wider range of daily experiences – from keeping to-do lists to hosting a perfect party.[2] Exploring the works of artists that navigate the tensions between what is seen and what cannot be forgotten, or subjugated, this exhibition is interested in the shift from the domain of paid labor to the realm of management of emotions. Here, the gallery space functions from within the convoluted logic of such conflicts that have come to define our daily existence.

[1] Annaliese Griffin, “The Definition of Emotional Labor Has Changed. Don’t Fight It,” Quartzy, January 20, 2019, qz.com.

[2] Julie Beck, “The Concept Creep of ‘Emotional Labor,’” The Atlantic, November 26, 2018. Theatlantic.com.

Title