The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism (that of Feuerbach included) is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence, in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism – which, of course, does not know real, sensuous activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective activity.
Karl Marx

It is indeed the mark of all laboring that it leaves nothing behind, that the result of its effort is almost as quickly consumed as the effort is spent. And yet this effort, despite its futility, is born of a great urgency and motivated by a more powerful drive than anything else, because life itself depends upon it.
Hanna Arendt

The arrow of time is broken: in an economy under constant restructuring that is based on the short-term and hates routine, definite trajectories no longer exist. People miss stable human relations and long-term objectives.
Richard Sennett

The real problem is the discreet charm of precariousness.
Akseli Virtanen, January 2013

Neoliberal economic strategies and techniques of governing behavior converge towards the same aim: the control of time. Discontinuous, or intermittent, work creates a precariousness of time and that precariousness of time results in its fragmentation. An individual has no idea when it might be employed and when it will no longer be, or for how long it will have to rely on unemployment benefits or RSA income. It becomes hard to differentiate down time from active time.
Maurizio Lazzarato, March 2013

(…) work and availability “eat up time;” “there’s no more time;” “there’s simply no time.” This lack of time, or rather, this time invested in fragmented work and in the search for work, results in both economic impoverishment and a loss of subjectivity. The proper use of time is no longer an imperative to one’s working time. This exploitation of time invades every hour of an individual’s life, whether employed or not.
Maurizio Lazzarato, March 2013

But what about today where workers are asked for initiatives – even in industrial work – and where autonomy is required of all the workers? How does it come that now the artistic adventure became a kind of entrepreneurship and that the artist is seen by some capitalists as a model of an ideal precarious worker?
Manuel Boutet, April 2013

How does the intertwining of labor and play complicate our understanding of exploitation?
What are the flows or discontinuities between traditional and new forms of labor: between homework and care giving or tagging, and interactivity on social networking services?
Marcell Mars, June 2013

If work is a value in the Platonic sense of the term, it cannot be measured. But if it sustains a measurement scale, as seen by classical economics or by industrial mechanics, there can be more or less of it; it can be added up, redistributed, saved, accumulated, etc. In the first instance, work is a value; in the second, it sustains value.
François Vatin, June 2013

From 2011 to 2014, following the proposal of Corinne Diserens, director of the art academy erg, curator, and the academy’s jury chairwoman from 2011 to 2015, Akademie Schloss Solitude devoted a major part of its program to the research topic Chronicles of Work. The point of departure for the thematic was the presumption that in today’s western societies the notion of work has been too often reduced to its purely economic dimension: For companies making business, work is a crucial element of competitiveness. For trade unions salary is the main question. This purely economic view on work and labor ignores its social and individual dimensions, abstracts biographical elements, personal ambition, desires or memory. A loss of social ties, on the one hand, and the emergence of new communication strategies within homogenous social groups on the other have been experienced since the beginning of late capitalism and the resultant end of the “ethic of endurance,” deemed the foundation of the employer-employee relationship. Nowadays, as sociologist Richard Sennett explains, it is very much a question of creating relationships between individuals who can no longer rely on the stable organization of the working world.

The four-year project Chronicles of Work considered these theses from various different disciplines, involving participants from the arts, humanities, exact sciences, juridical sciences and economics, discussing and examining the changes of the definitions of work in contemporary society together with fellows, jurors, and guests of the academy in the framework of symposia, round tables, lectures series, workshops, performances, film screenings, and an exhibition.

Chronicles of Work I: Work Without Qualities
The workshop Chronicles of Work 1. Work without Qualities, which took place from November 24–26, 2011, functioned as a starting point for the discussion around the topic and involved jurors, fellows, and guests of the academy coming from the fields of the arts, juridical sciences, humanities, and economic sciences. In a series of roundtable discussions and presentations, various notions of work processes, work conditions, and work mutations in the context of artistic practices and procedures, as well as in the fields of economics and law, were interwoven.

Chronicles of Work: Lecture Series
With Alan Bass, Maurizio Lazzarato, Michael Taussig, François Vatin, and Akseli Virtanen the academy invited internationally renowned scholars from the disciplines of economy, psychoanalysis, sociology, and anthropology to talk about changes in modern and contemporary work organization and the consequences for society. The lectures were held in 2013 and 2014.

Chronicles of Work III: What’s Work Worth?
What’s Work Worth was the title and leading question for a whole series of events, which took place from May to June 2013. Here, fellows and guests of the academy focused on the significance of their own artistic practice within different formats like lectures, performances, interventions, readings, a short play, film screenings, listening exercises, musical performances, and an exhibition.

Chronicles of Work IV: Combined and Compiled / Pieces of Pieces
For the experimental exhibition Combined and Compiled / Pieces of Pieces which took place from June 20–21, 2014 the academy’s project space Römerstraße became a walk-in and living archive, which assembled fragments of research and elements of work in a collaborative action by the fellows. The collection was accompanied by screenings, a reading, listening experiments, and a roundtable discussion. In addition to this exhibition, the famous Robin Hood Asset Management Cooperative opened its first office in Germany at Römerstraße from June 7–13, 2014, accompanied by a series of seminars with Akseli Virtanen, Brian Massumi, Peter Pál Pelbart, and Maurizio Lazzarato.

Chronicles of Work V: The Dissensual Awareness of Labor
To conclude the interdisciplinary project Chronicles of Work, the workshop The Dissensual Awareness of Labor was held from November 13–15, 2014, inviting experts, jurors and fellows to reexamine the numerous propositions brought forth in the last years. Instead of settling for a common definition, the overarching aim of the workshop was to trace the Rancierian notion of “dissensual awareness” within the conception of labor by means of discussions, lectures, performances, film screenings, and readings.

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