20 jan, UvA and HKU present: I would prefer not to…

This special evening at EYE has the topic of labour and labour resistance, with artworks from the HKU curated by students of the UvA. Inspired by Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street by Herman Melville, students from the UvA and the HKU have created their own visual critiques of labour practices, contemporary and historic. The evening is divided in five ‘work shifts’, each addressing a different aspect of labour – from the commonplace, to the unseen and forgotten.

Shift One begins with the striking Homo Commoditus, a multi-modal piece exploring the interplay of the human body and technology. With unseen footage from the EYE archives, we move to the first of our film ‘remixes,’ Cycles of Control and Release, which takes its cues from the processes of standardisation which defined the industrial age.

Shift Two takes us into the realm of work and play, and how it can be increasingly difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. The modern proliferation of ‘free labour,’ and the monetisation of leisure time, blurs this divide even further. WORK/PLAY is a social-experiment-cum-art-film which turns the conventional office workspace on its head and records the results. (Un)skilled, the second remix, looks at the dehumanising processes of factory work, and the crossover between skilled and unskilled labour.

Shift Three takes a cheerful look at the crushing effects of modern labour on the mind and body. The Phoenix Phenomenon simulates the experience of a stress-related anxiety attack. And in Shift Four, The Vanishing Men casts a critical eye on labour regimes by means of visual material from the Dutch East Indies. As images of bodies, landscapes and (hidden) labour blend until they become an indistinguishable multitude, the move from the invisible to the visible is explored.

Shift Five rounds of the working day with Herman, or the Unbearable Lightness of the Hammock, a wry and absurdist animation which charts a harrowing tale of the nominal hammock’s existential crisis…


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