Working / Not Working

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Through conversation I am investigating people’s different experiences of work and lack of work and how it affects their sense of self. Drawing on Studs Terkel’s book, “Working” this project revisits his approach to the role work has in our lives considering how much more precarious work conditions have become since the 1970s. Our relationship to work has had to change to deal with an increasingly globalized economy and far less stable job possibilities for most people. We now expect multiple career shifts within our lifetimes, and we brace ourselves for high unemployment and the threat of downward mobility across the first world. And yet, we still regularly ask each other, “ what do you do?” meaning what is your job, and define people accordingly.  This project explores the basic realities of what people do for work these days, the place work has in their lives, and how contemporary work and economic realities are affecting how we understand ourselves.

I began this project with a visit to Chicago, Studs Terkel’s home town, in June of 2013 in connection with the Hyde Park Art Center.  There, I started producing a series of Help Wanted posters to document people’s different work/life experiences and present these personal experiences of shifting economic realities for public consideration. In August 2013 I continued my conversational research and public interventions in Windsor, Ontario through the Neighborhood Spaces residency. In September & October this ongoing project will be included in the Emerging Tactics exhibition through Recess Gallery in Portland, OR.

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Help Wanted Posters:

Must be big, work out a lot

Make enough money for birth control

Work you will like, but not love

A good job, not an ok job

Everyday is a Monday

Your own little act of rebellion

No need to feel scrutinized

What you would rather be doing

Everything in your life has lead to this

You will be happy for a moment