BODIES AT WORK
What is the future of the cultural worker?
Is Art work or not? Do we work too much because life itself has become ‘occupied’ by constant activity, making obsolete the division between free time and work? Are we able to listen to the demands of our finite body in front of the infinite demands placed upon it? Do you also dream to retire in order to fully enjoy your life?
Cognitive capitalism, immaterial labour and creative production are some of the recurrent terms used to describe today’s typology of work. What those words depict is the model of a worker who is available 24-7, is radically flexible, able to work under pressure, is multi-skilled and a multi-tasker, even though they are not paid for all the work they do and has no guarantee of any permanent position. This ideal worker is employed not only for their education and working experience but also for their personality and passions, for their private tastes and aspirations, and for their networks of personal relationships. In short, for their (total) identity. For modern businesses, it is the personal capacities of the worker that are increasingly considered essential to the production of economic value and to measure professional performance.
In this quest for the ideal worker, the artist, perceived as a creative capital, as a person who is capable of continuous reinvention, self-education and self-initiation, seems to have offered the best model of reference to corporate business for such new immaterial economy. But is the artist really the ‘champion’ of such an economic model? And what does it imply for every worker to be creative?
Starting from these questions, artist Maja Bekan and curator Angela Serino will examine and voice what kind(s) of “work” it is that art and cultural workers do. What is their relationship to time and space, how and for whom they work, how they balance their private, social and professional life, and what are the advantages and pitfalls of such circumstances. The intention to activate such a process is to explore possible future scenarios for these professions, while at the same time questioning the language and the rhetoric used to describe the value of cultural work.
Over several months, BODIES AT WORK took the shape of an office space for people in need of a work place ("The ultimate flexible work station") and of a series of semi-public conversations, based on selected texts and artists’ contributions (videos, films) hosted together with local participants.
For the past six months, François has been collecting minutes of Chinese modern history in and around Beijing. Strange lifestyle resorts and decrepit museums have become pearls on a string of curious sites archeologically excavated and examined. Through the accretion of marginal and discarded objects, traces of human activity are remodulated into an array of materiality. The artefacts, hinged together here in the IFP studio in a choreography of substances, will become instigators of new parallel meanings.
Similarly, the smallest named creatures inhabiting the courtyard in which the IFP studio lies have become the main characters of a fetishist myth. Against a velvet background, these rugged animals are portrayed as individualized subjects, ostensibly responding to a empathetic viewer's gaze. Regardless of their status as pets or night crawlers, these creatures look back at us with an undeniable presence.
In a conclusive film we follow the artist and his compatriot on a bizarre walk through Chinese suburbia and informal settlements.The film culminates with a panoramic view of the quarries which provide Beijing with concrete, the raw material needed to construct physically imposing fragments of the Chinese Dream.
This shifting of scale from sublime constructed landscapes to portraits of hutong cats opens up a new realm of meaning in place in desperate need of it. In his role as wanderer/collector, François Dey provides an alternative retelling of a region fast-forwarding from precariousness to prosperity.
Opening: June 28th 2013 at 6pm
SAYIZHENG II: Rundeli Market
Sayizheng II: a dream, a seizure, a hot storming day in a market. An exhibition.
What: Sayizheng II
When: 2013.8.11 9:00-21:00 Where: Rundeli Market
Maja Bekan/Angela Serino/Fenni Shi Jing
Paper Tiger Studio
What happens when artworks fall from pedestals into a living space? What happens when artists step out of the art market and into a food market?
A one-day group exhibition took place in the biggest open market within Beijing’s second ring on one of the hottest days of the year. Tucked away inside the hutongs, 16 works appeared, disappeared, and reappeared throughout the day in different corners of the bustling complex. Under the watchful eyes “from above” as well as from the people below, visitors were asked to come disguised as a buyer and do their Sunday shopping.
Apples, bitter melon, chicken feet...very fresh, very cheap!