13 October 2006 – 07 January 2007

Francis Alÿs (B) \ John Baldessari (USA) \ Alice Creischer/Andreas Siekmann (D) \ Josef Dabernig (A) \ Matthias Klos (A) \ Aernout Mik (NL) \ Jean-Luc Moulène (F) \ Adrian Paci (AL/I) \ Danica Phelps (USA) \ Reinigungsgesellschaft (D) \ Corinna Schnitt (D) \ Markus Seidl/Elisabeth Schimana (A) \ Antje Schiffers (D) \ Annette Weisser/Ingo Vetter (D)

“Life without work,” psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud writes, “is something I can’t really comfortably contemplate. For me, fantasizing and work go together; nothing else amuses me.” “Ne travaillez jamais – work?

Never!” Over fifty years ago this slogan, attributed to the Situationists, described precisely the opposite: the “truly revolutionary problem,” i.e. leisure time. The founding members of the French Situationists knew what they were talking about: “Since we have spent several years literally doing nothing we can justifiably define our attitude towards society as avant-garde. In a society still based on work, we have seriously endeavoured to dedicate ourselves exclusively to leisure time.”

Is life without work conceivable? Profession, career and perhaps self-fulfilment are models that are still incontestable on the one hand, and are beginning to crack on the other – but are nevertheless based on a common principle: Work is understood as productivity that is visible and can be converted into capital. And what is the opposite of this work? It seems to be irreconcilably opposed to idleness, leisure or self-determined activity, everyday occupations, necessary, meaningless or self-chosen actions. Are they reluctantly accepted accessories to effectiveness, the germ cell of identity formation, an evil necessity for the regeneration of what really counts–i.e. the ability to work–, or are they the paradisiacal realm of freedom?

The notion of the artist as personified idleness has persisted to this day. Yet the image of the autonomous artist in his solitary studio belongs to a romantic-bourgeois past. In this new conception, work is becoming increasingly indistinguishable from creativity. Hierarchies are disappearing in favour of responsible self-organization.

The exhibition focuses on discussions revolving around the concepts of work and leisure and on the way society evaluates them, particularly from the point of view of how those evaluations affect art. The wide range of art projects begins with John Baldessari’s statement “I’m making art” of the year 1971, arising from the core of the essential artistic issue in the studio: What is the relationship between what one does and what one produces?


Curator: Gabriele Mackert


The exhibition project is being carried out in collaboration with the Arbeitnehmerkammer (Chamber of Employees) Bremen and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Bremen. It is being sponsored by the German Federal Cultural Foundation. The Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst (GAK) is sponsored by the Senator of Culture of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.