Tate Exchange, February 2018
My letterpress work was selected to be part of the Tate Exchange programme Factory Settings led by artist-in-residence Claire Twomey which challenged the language of modern work and the prevailing attitudes to work and education.
I proposed using analogue technology—letterpress and a typewriter— as part of a performance to question the status quo and as a reference to a time when manual labour, not automation, was prevalent.
The title of my work RE:WORK referred to the numerous words beginning with ‘re’ and indicated a revision of the definition of work in a neo-liberal society; reclaim, rethink, review, remake, rebut, refocus, revive, refigure, reject, remix, revolt, renew, realign, refute, retrial, revamp, redact etc.
I printed the words on the A4 Colorplan paper using an old wood font, 14-line Gill Sans regular. The paper and ink have an association with democracy, are sustainable and also afford a haptic experience for the user.
It was my intention to interview participants about their views or experience of work, record their words on the letterpress cards using the typewriter then shred them.
I thought this was an appropriate metaphor for questions of futility, productivity, artificial demand and immaterial labour in neo-liberal society.
Claire Twomey’s premise was that because of viewing or participating, critical thought may give rise to solutions of ethical and sustainable production by challenging current economic and consumption policies, in this case by producing a satirical alternative reality.
The value systems of a neo-liberal society were set against personal value systems that may be in opposition: consumption vs. sustainability, being vs. appearing. It was for the participant to decide which was ethical.
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