The meaning of work [Arbetets mening]

A public workshop at the research week, Royal institute of Art in Stockholm 2018, January 23, 10.00-20.00. 
Frankenstein
Boris Karloff from The Bride of Frankenstein 1935.

Changing global work relations and digital labor are transforming the way we perform our identities and understand our life worlds. Crowdsourcing, microtasks, sharing economy, and an expanding class of temporary and flexible workers strengthen commodification of relations and create extreme forms of alienation. To develop an understanding of this ongoing transformation of what we know as “work”, this one day workshop invite artists that problematize ideas and norms about work in different ways, to share and discuss their work.

 The role of the artist’s work as well as ideas and norms about work and human conditions are common themes in the arts; Questioning production relations or predicting new ones, idealizing a romantic rural past or heading straight on for the future. Artists’ work has counteracted modern work relations since the beginning of industrialism with Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein from 1818 as a starting point.  From the critique of the arts and crafts movement of alienation and division of labour to the futurist and constructivist movements uncritical acceptance of modernity, industrialism and discipline. Art has been a tool for social critique often connected to social movement and also for making promises of a bright and equal society where nobody lives on someone else’s work. From existential contemplations such as John Cage´s famous work 4’33”, where keeping silence is the work, or On Kawara’s Date Paintings (Rorimer, 1991), to more contemporary reflections on work relations like  the British artist Tracy Emin, who sold options on her future work for £10 in the early 1990s (Barber, 2001), or Elin Wikström’s work “How would it look if everyone did it?” in Malmö in 1993, consisting of a bed installed in a supermarket where the artist spent three weeks sleeping during the day (“Elin Wikström,” n.d.). A similar comment on the artist as worker is Marina Abramović performance The Artist Is Present (2010), a 736-hour and 30-minute static, silent piece, in which she sat immobile in the exhibition while spectators were invited to take turns sitting opposite her.
The list goes on, and the artistic research environment at the Royal Institute of Art has hosted several artists that have problematize aspects of work, such as e.g. Nomeda & Gedimina Urbonas, Petra Bauer, Simon Goldin & Jacob Senneby, Kajsa Dahlgren, Nils Claesson, Karin Hansson, among others. Works that can be seen as a criticism both of the artist’s role as a commodity on a market and a criticism of the consumer society, the exploitation of globalized capitalism, or as a more existential questioning of what we use our working time for and a protest against society’s demands for order and rationality.
In this one day workshop the aim is to contribute to this tradition by gathering artworks and artists that expand critical perspectives on work in relation to artistic practices.

Schedule

10.00 Åsa Andersson Broms Introduction to workshop and the exhibition Stage-direction
10.30 Kalle Brolin I am the Sun – on recuperation of workers’ culture at Swedish coalmines and sugar factories
10.50 Iris Smeds The Actress; The Oracle: The Tragedy
11.10 Shiva Anoushirvani Violence, love and work
11.30 pause
12.00 Marie Gavois The seagulls are singing nasty pop songs
12.30 Nils Claesson Presentation of the film program
12.40 Lunch
14.00 Juanma González Apostlahästar på Gotland. A ‘secular’ pilgrimage as an art-based research method.
14.20 Aleksei Borisionok, Olia Sosnovskaya, Nicolay Spesivtsev and Dzina Zhuk [Work Hard! Play Hard! working group] Fatigue and pharmachoreography
15.00 Åsa Elieson The performative as art in the post digital era
15.20 pause
15.40 Bogdan Szyber Fauxthentification – Academia, its champions and the global digital proletariat
16.00 Per Hasselberg Work of the state
16.20 pause
16.40 Ami Kohara Work, tempo and imagination
17.00 Karin Hansson I am not a robot
17.20 Gunnel Petterson [from the Smedjan working group] What the hell are you doing here?
17.40 Dinner
19.00 George Kentros This violin must die

The event will  be open to the public. If you want to attend, e-mail  Karin.hansson@kkh.se

References

Abramovic, M., Biesenbach, K., & Museum of Modern Art (New York, N. Y. . (2010). Marina Abramović : the artist is present. Museum of Modern Art.

Barber, L. (2001). Lynn Barber meets Tracey Emin. The Observer. Retrieved July 8, 2012, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2001/apr/22/features.magazine27

MMP: Elin Wikström. (n.d.). Moderna Museet. Retrieved October 30, 2018, from https://www.modernamuseet.se/stockholm/en/exhibitions/mmp-elin-wikstrom/

Rorimer, A. (1991). The Date Paintings of On Kawara. Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, 17(2), 120. doi:10.2307/4101587