Work has ruled our lives for centuries, and it does so today more than ever. It dominates everyday life, from early childhood to adulthood, the pressure and obsession with employability designs the toys we have and the education we provide. With the emergence of gig economies, immaterial labour, round-the-clock work and precarity, we find ourselves at a crisis. Our self-worth is weighed on how much we can produce, even though it looms to destroy and intoxicate our environment.
It is time to start thinking of an alternative.
I’ve been looking at ways in which to shift the focus of a history based on labour culture towards a society of leisure. But this also brings a contradiction. Leisure is part of an ethics of work and serves to fulfil a desire to be productive, encouraging self-discipline and self-improving. Paradoxically, countries in south Europe that greatly depend on tourism and leisure, are constantly pondered as lazy countries as a justification for their low economic growth. So how can we shift the way we think and look at leisure and work?
In the ongoing project Labour Series I'm trying to sketch a correlation between the development of leisure activities in the 20th century and the different movement of Abstract Art. In these chronologies interesting coincidences start to emerge, such as the American invention of roller skates in the 60’s, Slip n’ Slide activities and American Abstract Expressionism.
My goal with this project is to outline a parallel history that explains the diverse movements of art not derived as a logic driven from notions on work and productivity, but as a result of a culture of leisure, the introduction of paid holidays, the emergence of modern tourism and the new perceptional and sensorial experiences that originated from it.
This project is currently in progress.