11.05.18 - ISELP, Brussels

‘Why Work ?’ — Performance


Co-curated with Alicja Melzacka, performed by Lisa Wilkens.


Performed on the occasion of State of Statelessness opening day, as part of Rites of Exchange performance programme on 11 May 2018.


Why Work aims to challenge not only the preconceived notions such as artistic work, productivity and creativity, but also the practices of the artists engaged in the project, pushing them - and ourselves - out of the comfort zone.


The title of the project refers to a chapter in a popular publication from 1946 outlining the benefits of physical labour to the workers. At the same time, it allows for different contemporary readings - from implying the futility of  work (why bother?) to posing a question of what we mean when we talk about (a) work in the context of  contemporary art (and why not labour?).



Lisa Wilkens’ practice is based on a manual, labour-intensive process, entails a tension between the material and the immaterial aspects of artistic work. Processing outdated materials and technologies, she consciously refers to visual language of industrial labour, but also compares artistic and industrial production on a conceptual level, rendering the process an inseparable part of her work. During the production phase, we agreed on a model of contract for artistic work, that will be traced by her hand on carbon paper, signed by both parties, and mechanically reproduced by hand with a spirit duplicator.


Not a model of artistic contract for work, but a working contract for art, that she will have to reproduce by hand as an agreement of its conditions. Therefore, as she is placed remotely from her audience, we do not know whether if she is actually going to execute this work or not.