Week 12: Au travail / At Work collective

Hi Everyone,

This Tuesday is another event in a year-long series of weekly conversations and exhibits shedding light on examples of Plausible Artworlds.

This week we’ll be talking with some of the people AT WORK / AU TRAVAIL, which is not so much a collective as an open call to artists and workers around the world to regard their workplace – whatever it may be – as a site of clandestine art production. Members are invited to consider their current employment as a kind of readymade artist’s residency, complete with wages, social connections, resources, and downtime. At Work / Au travail’s members, far from attempting to unite labor in order to leverage its power against capital, have simply stopped believing in work altogether, while continuing to be “At Workers.” Rather than sabotaging the means of production, they use their right to manage their won labor time in order to turn the machines to other experimental purposes — or just turn them off for a bit. In so doing, “At Workers” seek to transform their conditions of exploitation into the conditions of freedom, with no further goal than the continued practice of their own personal freedom. While this strategy might be read as so much playful resignation in our era of generalized precarious labor, it offers the following provocation: the onus is on each of us individually, and all of us collectively, to produce our own freedom, regardless of how hopeless the conditions might appear.

Created in Montreal around 2004, AU TRAVAIL / AT WORK now has members worldwide — indeed, one wonders how many people are NOT potential members! It offers its members a network of relations as well as methods for sharing, and organizing exhibitions that ensure the dissemination of their ideas, actions, and accomplishments. Immersed in highly diverse sectors of the economy, does AT WORK / AU TRAVAIL sketch the contours of a new form of commitment, where the all-too-stifling workaday world is a plausible artworld?