12 May – 5 June 2021
No More the Fruit
“Only those who have reflected on their condition will be capable of changing it”
The Right to Be Lazy, Paul Lafargue,1883
In the late 19th century, Marxist revolutionary Paul Lafargue, noted with disdain that the language of desire and leisure had begun to be used to promote labour. Instead, Lafargue advocated the three-hour working day and contemplative leisure, because “only those who have reflected on their condition will be capable of changing it.”
Today’s subjects find little time to plot, let alone organise extraction from the demands of late capitalism whilst living under the burden of a stifling work ethic, expanding workloads and precarity. This exhibition looks back as it thinks forward; wondering on new possibilities for the future. With techno-capitalism on the rise, it speculates beyond automation anxiety – a dominant worry since the advent of the production line. Could a collective political project be the coupling of a work less (rather than a workless) society with the potentially freeing benefits of AI and robotics? A new productive and creative agency, that stretches beyond the logic and limits of extractive capitalism might emerge through contemplative leisure and social organisation, signalling real change in the material world.
Glide Time robotic vacuum cleaner, blue-tooth speaker, skirting board, recording of ‘Good Old Desk’ by Harry Nilsson.
My old desk does an arabesque,
In the morning when I first arrive
It’s a pleasure to see, it’s waiting there for me
To keep my hopes alive
A symbol of robotification at its simplest, the vacuum cleaner promises release into ‘free’ time through labour saving technology. Spinning along with the robot is a jaunty, somewhat anodyne song used in the early 1980s as the soundtrack for Gliding On, a New Zealand sit-com set in a ‘job for life’ government department. In an age before Rogernomics and wholesale deregulation, working hours were in stark contrast to those of today.
Happy Hour neon, electrical wiring, transformer
Affectionately known as Happy Hour, the mood shifting ritual of half price drinks marks a transition between work and home. On the verge of irrelevance post synchronised working hours, it sits poised for repurposing.
No More the Fruit salvaged wood, glass fruit
Reaping the fruit of one’s labour is an expression used to describe the rewards of work, now hijacked by neo-liberalism and its justificatory belief system of individual merit coupled to a good work ethic.
Driving Seat Sunpearl Progresso pencil frottage of elementary circuit board, 120gsm paper.
Circuit boards heralded the onset of electronic technology and are used in everything from electric egg beaters to the mother boards of advanced robotics. These connectors and supporters of technology are agnostic in respect of function – that is determined by those who own the technology.