Suspension of Labour
Participatory performance and installation for 'Got Your Name Or Not?' w The Artists Company
Your Mother Gallery, 2018
This participatory performance and installation was presented as part of the group show 'Got Your Name Or Not?' with The Artists Company (TAC) in 2018.
Got Your Name Or Not?
The public was invited to work together with the artists through a period of 3 weeks, working chiefly with the medium of cement. Concrete is a composite material made of an aggregate of cement and sand, most commonly associated with construction and hard labour. The show is a collective inquiry into the relationship between art and labour, exploring the notions of 'time as currency, labour as art'. The term ‘art(work)’ often refers to the production of an art object or the art object itself. Participants are given an opportunity to be artists in an art show by committing their time and effort, where timestamps will record their artistic labour. Here, artists' individuality, style, and ownership are put aside. Each participant/artist becomes conscious of the time, labour involved and immaterial and intangible value of these constructions as they clock in/out, work on their art and develop a social bond together.
The breaking of suspense. A labour of love.
Suspension of Labour
In line with the sbow's overarching exploration into the notions of labour and collectivity in art, the making of the art object for Suspension of Labour was done communually with the participants and audiences of the group show. Across 3 weeks, Jireh and the participants meticulously fastened 108 red strings onto a wire scaffold, and then layered it with white cement and sand.
The title of the artwork is also an allusion to the labour involved in giving birth, a metaphor frequently used by artists in describing their process of creating work. Here, the process of 'giving birth' in done through collective effort built around solemn ritual during the performance, as well as the actual collaborative construction/gestation of the art object itself.
The performance unfolds along in shared suspense as the participants took turns to cut the red strings suspending the concrete 'fetus'. The word 'suspense' here not only alludes to the notions of 'holding up' and 'keeping in tension', but also of 'taking a break' (from work). In this case, the break from labour also marks the moment of breakage (of the strings) - the release of tension, afterwhich everyone's work is complete. Hence, the birth of the artwork paradoxically, marks the destruction of the art object itself.
Serendipitously, the timeframe in making the artwork also coincided with Mothers' Day at Your Mother Gallery.