A public workshop at the research week, Royal institute of Art in Stockholm 2018, January 23, 10.00-20.00.
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.